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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Matt Liere: Aging a matter of perspective

By Matt Liere For the Spokesman-Review

Spring is here. Break out the champagne, put on your dancing boots, it’s time to celebrate!

February, especially, is a conglomeration of wasted days, good only for ruminating on the supposed clairvoyance of a particular east coast rodent, and trying to conjure up clever ways to dispatch him. February is the shortest month of twelve for good reason – keeping it that way is in the best interest of all.

Hunting seasons are closed, the ice typically deteriorates beyond safe levels for even the most diehard holers, and it remains dark on both sides of 6 o’clock. Unless there are ducks or turkey to rise and prepare for, sleeping through February’s gloomiest hours – the entire month – is highly recommended.

The remaining months offer so much – wildflowers, mountain hikes, open lake waters and game opportunities – February doesn’t really stand a chance. My birthday falls in February, too, which doesn’t help. There’s nothing like a birthday to remind you of your mortality.

When I look into the mirror I see the same face I remember from high school. My kids disagree, using a grainy, yearbook photo from 1988 as proof. This delights them to no end, as nothing makes teenagers happier than to prove a parent wrong. They say you’re only as old as you feel, but I suspect “they” are likely under the age of 30 and childless, with no school picture readily handy for judgment.

My father’s views differ, though, much like mine with my own offspring. He once told me once you reached a certain age, you should get a pass. When I asked him to expound, he said such a pass would exempt the beneficiary from further deterioration of the body and mind – compensation for time contributed.

A pass to be awarded for having survived the challenges life delivers without warning, for having lived through failures and successes and the consequential moments of extreme joy or unfortunate periods of profound grief. A pass for having simply endured, leaving you to live out your remaining days free from worry of pancreatic cancer or early-onset dementia; free from any ailment or injury that might prevent a push of ringnecks from South Dakota corn rows in October.

It’s difficult to see those close to you get old. Dad lives next door, so proximity and genetics make association impossible to escape, and his recent shuffling has been tough to watch. Dad suffers from both a bad hip and back, but also a bad shoulder, for which my tree-felling skills are mostly to blame.

He’s logged a significant number of experiences, too – good and bad – adding to a foundation of mental and physical memories that compound to provide constant reminders of human frailty and resolve, and the unpredictable limits of our time here on earth. With little consideration, it’s easy to grasp the attraction of a pass.

My complaints of February’s worth now seem selfish and trivial, especially to those desperate for just a little more – the chance to see the sun set across the lake one last time, the opportunity to say “I love you” to a spouse, or a simple “Goodbye” to your children. There’s simply no time for wasted days.

Maybe aging in February isn’t so bad after all. Maybe it’s just a matter of perspective.

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