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BFTP: Hardening of the opinions

sht081.jpgTho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
                        Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson

Cary and I met our goal of 23 miles in two days, not three. We survived hail, rain, wind, wolves, narrow bridges, defective camp stoves, slippery trails, and a damned cold night. We carried 40-50 pound packs to the highest point of the trail. Heroic hearts, indeed.

I have almost recovered.

Aging fellows like me need a good physical challenge now and again. More so now really than when youth had its horns out and went looking for some territory to defend or some mate to impress. It is simply about proving to oneself that one yet harbors a small ember of the strength and, perhaps, promise of youth. That the muscles still serve - though they take longer to warm up. That the lungs still work - perhaps harder than ever. But perhaps the best thing to know is that the brain still functions - enough anyway to read a map, talk politics and women, and survive a day or two in the wild. That we are foolish enough to take on the trail, but smart enough not to hurt ourselves too much in the process.

Yet it's not really a hardening of the arteries, I fear, but hardening of the opinions. A malady that seems endemic among people my age (and younger). How do I keep from becoming one of the old grumps in the teachers' lounge who counters every change advanced with, "Yeah, we tried it that way twenty years ago. It didn't work then and it won't work now."

It's tougher to stay mentally flexible than physically fit. What can you do to make sure you can still touch your intellectual toes?

Or as Tennyson might put it:

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 

Original post May 20, 2008


I thought of this post since I am leaving on a backpacking trip with my grandson Paul and his Boy Scouts today. Looks like some challenging hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Still striving to stay both physically and mentally fit and flexible!

Paul and Grandpa 2018

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