I’m getting older. There…I’ve said it out loud! When I was young I could never imagine getting older. Or, that when I did, I’d be ready for it and accept it with grace. However, in reality, you’re never really ready for it. Reflecting upon your own mortality comes knocking upon the door!
This past weekend was another Boy Scout event at Camp Belzer on the edge of Ft. Harrison. Back in my youth, Interstate 465 lay in the future; and this camp was quiet and lay in the middle of nowhere. In the present it remains the same, only now, as you lay in your tent at night, you’re accompanied to sleep by semi truck Jake-brakes, motorcycles with loud exhausts, Fast & Furious wannabes, and pulsating bass speakers from vehicles tooling past the camp on Boy Scout Road. You do your best to tune it out. It’s not always possible.
The Firecrafter Ritual is held two weekends of every summer. It is a crowning achievement for not only the youth, but also adult scouts. There are no secrets in scouting, only mysteries, the Ritual being one of them. I went through the Ritual in 2005 as a candidate and for the past 16 years returned as a trail guide to lead a fresh group of adults through their candidacy. Yet, the past few years have revealed changes that I don’t necessarily welcome with open arms: sore hips, knees and feet as a result of all of the hiking; toes that blister easily; and the fogginess of getting only three hours of sleep that first Friday night. I’m getting older…enjoying my sleep more and more. I have toned my yearly involvement back, not being on the trail as much but participating in other aspects of the Ritual. It appears to have been a game changer for aching joints. However…age has other plans.
My doctor feels I’m easing into hypertension (high blood pressure) and has officially diagnosed my aching right hip as osteoarthritis. I battled prostate cancer in 2019 and have presently resumed treatment for high PSA levels. Plus, Doc added, you need to lose a few pounds. When I was a child I told my grandparents I wanted to have false teeth, wear glasses, and have hearing aids—just like them. Well, I have a couple of those, so high blood pressure, cancer and arthritis have only become bonus items!
I’ve not been so kind to my body over the years. There was a period in my youth when I wanted to be a Hollywood stuntman. Training involved ripping through our childhood woods and jumping off the back of a motorcycle at 30 mph. (I bounced like a rag doll) There were the high endurance hikes through the Grand Canyon and around Mt. Hood in Oregon, hoisting a sometimes 60 to 70 lb backpack. There was a kick I received in a karate tournament that bent my right knee inward. Many years later I am feeling the ramifications of all of these. I believe over the course of living, I myself have done my body in. I’m now feeling the love!
At the semi conclusion of the Ritual on Saturday night, I stopped to look at the dining hall glowing like a monolith in the moonlit night. Scouters, young and old alike, milled about as singing resonated throughout the camp; time for celebration. It was one of those magical moments when I realized, regardless of age and the things that come from it, this moment in time is where I was meant to be!