Growing older involves many happy surprises

I recently moved into an apartment with some splendid views of our mountains, blotched with snow still but towering. Three large windows expose the vistas to me, as well as from the balcony that faces west and north. I had forgotten what the real Nevada looks like in its majesty.

That’s common stuff to those of you who enjoy such views daily.

But what they don’t have that I do is a fine view of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada’s Carson City Clubhouse playing field. It’s much larger than a football grid but mostly unmarked. In afternoons the field is populated by perhaps 200 kids, all playing some game — soccer, football or gymnastics (cartwheels are very popular with the girls) or just chasing one another around the field in untrammeled, obvious teamless joy.

It’s a vision most of us seniors tend to forget. We forget how much we enjoyed aimless play, running, chasing one another or just plain running around. Seniors usually don’t have young-family kids they can watch simply at play. We tend to watch TV, especially those channels that appeal to our political leanings (Fox News for right-wing tirades, MSNBC for the left). Our loss.

The B&G Clubs field is set up for all of it. There’s a towering backstop for baseball, plenty of soccer goals nets that can be moved about — and no white chalk lines defining anything. The B&G field is one of dreams. You don’t have to build it; it’s here. All you need is a half-dozen adult staffers to keep things moderately under control. But it’s the uncontrolled vicarious pleasures of seeing kids being just that, free of school staff supervision, simply running their legs off.

This is coed action. Girls are part of the football teams (no uniforms or formal teams). Girls run with the same freedom of the boys and usually look more graceful. Some kids lounge around the fence that surrounds the field, some run endlessly, untiringly, happily.

As a senior I can remember such pleasures, although nowadays I’m limited to green ski runs and moderate hiking trails and not much running. And I haven’t done a cartwheel since I got in high school and switched to more dignified pursuits. My loss. But the fun I see on the B&G field is enough to make the day brighter and warmer and give me senior hopes for at least trying a cartwheel next time I’m on turf.

We seniors tend to forget such simple pleasures. We watch our diets, take our pills and if we care enough, we practice a workout routine.

What to do if you don’t have fine views of the mountains, of a kids’ playing field, an exercise room or hot tub? For views you can always drive to Washoe State Park with Slide Mountain practically in your lap. For exercise, walking is the best workout of them all, and you can just walk around town (maybe stopping for something to moisten the throat). For a hot tub, fill the bath and just sit and let the world come to you through some of the memories you’ve stored up ”for later.” I’m lucky in that category; I recently stumbled across the name of my college sweetheart on one of the social media sites and we’ve since been enjoying memories of Ohio University — the time we went to a formal dance wearing sneakers, the sweet pleasures of DQ after classes, and flying kites with friends and a case of Wiedeman’s Ohio beer.

She is shorter — she has spine problems — but her mind is sharp as ever and her wit is delightful. Maybe there isn’t an old sweetheart you’d like to look up, but there is always someone out there to help you relive a part of your life.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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