I always feel grateful that I picked up running as a hobby when I was young. Other than its benefits to heath and fitness, I like its simplicity – just a pair of good running shoes and run anywhere, at any time. No need to ask friends or book the court like Badminton and Squash.
But running also takes its toll. Except my regular knee and ankle pain, a couple of dark spots start showing on my face due to the exposure to the strong sunlight of Australia during the runs. As those spots become more obvious, I saw the doctor to check whether I need to do something about them.
Although I had an appointment that morning, I still needed to wait for 45 minutes. Half of our life is spent on waiting. Waiting for public transport, waiting for promotion at work, waiting for the right person to appear, waiting for the opportunities, waiting for the computer to boot up, waiting for it to shut down. People around me in the clinic kept sneezing and coughing, they looked much sicker than me.
After some basic examinations, the advices from doctor are nothing new: avoid exposure to sunlight, wear a hat while running, use day cream to protect the skin. As I seldom put cream on my face, please comment on which day cream I should try if you have the knowledge, I was confused by all those different brands and types in the chemist. Other than these, the doctor mentioned that the dark spots are also caused by ageing – something that I can’t avoid.
Sigh … no matter how healthy you live your life, you will still grow old. Sometimes you just pretend you don’t know the hard truth. I had my first pair of reading glass last year, I have more gray hairs, I exercise less but sleep and eat more, and I start gaining weight. Things are changing unnoticed day after day. The doctor seemed to know what I was thinking and continued, “Don’t worry, you have at least another 30 years to live.” Another blow! What? How can you predict how much time I’ll live? Is there an advanced algorithm? He explained, “Oh, it’s just based on the life expectancy of males in this country.”
No one will think they will live forever but people also won’t remind themselves that one day they will die. In ancient Rome, when a victorious general paraded through the streets, legend has it that he was sometimes trailed by a servant whose job was to repeat to him, “Memento Mori”: Remember you will die. A reminder of mortality would help the hero keep things in perspective, instil some humility.
I believe everything has an end and there are times being together and apart. I had an evening run that day. It’s getting dark and the world was so quiet, only my footsteps hitting the pavement could be heard. It’s so relaxed – no past, no future, just present. No matter how life changes, I keep my own pace and hang in there.