George Bernard Shaw said that, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
I think of that, as I lie in bed at night, forgotten muscles aching following the first coed softball game of the season.
By my figuring, not only am I the oldest woman on any team, but I may well be the oldest player in the league. Referencing Shaw, maybe I’m the youngest?
As we age, it’s a challenge to find the proper balance between “settling” and continuing to explore and grow. The realities of one’s changing body are legitimate.
I can still catch and hit pretty well. I understand the dynamics of the game. It seems to take me about 15 minutes to reach first base, however.
There are times when I wonder if I add anything to the value of our team. Times when the echo of one (helpful) teammate’s urging, “Ruth, you can run faster than that!” when, actually, I couldn’t, prompt me to consider resigning.
Then I realize that we frequently couldn’t field a team if I didn’t play, and darned if we don’t do pretty well in our league, even including me.
Many of us have come to Incline Village because we prize health, the outdoors, and considerable physical activity. There are the “young toughs,” as I like to call them, both male and female, who seem to spend considerable hours daily on the trails, in the lake, on the slopes, in Cross Fit classes.
Some of them, both male and female, are of an age when society no longer considers them “young.” Then there are the rest of us, balancing careers, families, and the advancing numbers on our driver’s licenses relating to “date of birth.”
Those of us who don’t want to stop playing, because we love the physical engagement and the memories of youth.
There is something remarkably ageless about softball on a soft summer’s evening: the chatter, the sound of a good hit, the thwack of a ball as it hits a mitt.
One is transported back to other fields, other companions, other jerseys, other afternoons and evenings. Playing games over time builds the bridges connecting islands in a lifetime.
In sixth grade, our teacher, who was also the principal, brought a television into the classroom and taught us all how to keep a baseball scorebook so that he could rationalize watching the Dodgers in the World Series.
It’s a skill I’ve maintained over the decades, sparking (1st) admiration in my later-to-become husband, (2nd) the ability to assist numerous coaches of student teams, (3rd) endless happy conversations with other baseball enthusiasts in a huge variety of ball parks around the country.
I am deeply grateful to my teammates who, while undoubtedly wishing I were faster and quicker, understand what skills I do add to the mix and, more importantly, the value of still playing. I’m not going to grow old without a fight.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.