Birth of the Middle-Aged “Moderation” Mantra


No matter what we do to stay in shape, eat right, get enough rest, and take time out of our busy lives to have some semblance of a functional personal life, a Nor’easter is on the way.

So two days ago I got news that my new book, Urban Dystrophy, was on press. That afternoon I hit a personal record [PR] in the gym, and late that day, I heard news from my Internist that my blood work was excellent.

What could go wrong? Right?

At 7:PM I had a great meal at home, cleaned up, walked in the dark [always a bad move] towards the bedroom to watch Criminal Minds on my Macbook Pro, and out of nowhere slipped on a plastic coat hanger.

See, normally I don’t leave coat hangers in the middle of the floor, but my French Bulldog, Zeppelin, does.

So everything is suddenly in slow motion except for the subtle “POP” emanating from my knee. Specifically, the meniscus.

Now folks, if I were 22, this would be no big deal. Back then I was injured more than not, and didn’t think much about it. It would heal, and in the meantime I would do whatever I did around it.

I didn’t lapse into some existential hell-hole assuming the worst: I will never recover, my quality of life is shot in spite of my best efforts, the stars have it out for me, God is pissed.

But this is what middle-aged guys tend do when anything goes wrong. We assume the worst because we’ve spent a lifetime hearing news of the worst, which seems to happen to people more and more frequently as they age.

The psychological impact of even the slightest injury is magnified a thousand times.

The primary reason for this is academic: We recover a lot more slowly than we did back when we were in our 20’s, and at this juncture in life, we have less time to heal. 

This is why so many middle-aged guys practice “moderation,” otherwise known as living to avoid injury.

The problem with this practice is that it takes life down a notch to a level of competitive mediocrity, and thus, yields mediocre results. Eventually, time advances at twice the pace of the body, and instead of spraining a knee, I break a friggin’ hip. This is why you have to train hard, but smart.

Having said this, the “coat hangar” will always be there, waiting to throw us off guard. Our job is to be ready to handle any eventuality to the best of our ability — no matter what it is, and moderation only assures an even more disastrous result.

POSTSCRIPT: This morning my cat attacked my leg.