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The steps of the dance called life changes as the music does

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POSTED August 5, 2009 2:50 a.m.
“Life’s a dance you learn as you go” – Part of the chorus to John Michael Montgomery’s song “Life’s a Dance.”

If you told me when I was 21 that I’d be eating healthy, weigh 168 pounds, and be stronger by the time I was 53, have two happy-go-lucky Dalmatians, love a place (Manteca) I’d never been before, and own my own house to  boot I would have looked at you like you were insane.

Back then I had managed to convince myself fast food was healthy, my lot in life was to be heavy, I was genetically doomed to have only a certain level of strength, didn’t think I’d get enjoyment out of pets, never thought I’d move out of Placer County and figured housing prices were going up so fast I’d never own my own place.

Now I’m convinced I’m just limited by what I’m willing to do.

It’s amazing how much tunnel vision you have and how much of the world you have figured out when you’re under 25 years of age.

Wise people – those who were over 30 or so – used to tell me back then that I would amaze myself as I aged into the ways that I would grow if I just allowed it to happen.

And that really is the point.

One should never stop learning and growing.

Too often we get a college degree and believe we need to stop learning. Closed minds are intolerant minds. Contrary to the wisdom of youth that they are the ones that hold the key to change many are ill-equipped to do so as they believe they can either do no wrong, are free of any biases, or simply have a full grasp of the world.

Those personality maladies don’t all universally disappear when we age nor is everyone under the age 25 inflicted with them.

It does explain how a defeat is more crushing when you’re younger whereas most people when they are older understand setbacks for what they are – the foundation for future success.

Things done in anger or in depression are often blown out of proportion when you’re younger simply because one doesn’t have anything to measure it against. That runs the gamut from your response to parental expectations to the fallout from a break-up.

My world didn’t turn out as I thought it would when I was 21. That’s definitely lucky for me.

It doesn’t mean I settled for second best. It’s quite the contrary. I’ve opened doors I never would have had I stuck to my self-assured state developed in the bliss of being young.

Things started clicking when I realized what you do with your health can cascade into other areas of one’s life. And just because I crested one impressive summit – going from 320 pounds down to 195 – didn’t mean that was it.

The biggest surprise has been my ability to drop below 195 pounds to 168 where I’ve been for going on two years.

It’s not vanity as much as the other doors it’s opened. I enjoy jogging a lot more. I can tolerate extremes in temperatures better. I’ve even started to develop muscle definition that – if you saw my family line even those who are strong – would be enough to get me accused of being adopted.

I’ve finally come to gripes 100 percent with the concept that one eats to live and not lives to eat.

As Karen Pearsall correctly pointed out the other day, there is no reason for me to apologize for being a lacto-ovo-vegetarian for it is who I am.

People may judge me by attaching a label to me based on my diet choice.

Quite frankly, that’s their problem.

Funny, but younger people who don’t know me more often than not automatically assume based on my diet choice that I must be an old hippie or something.

Imagine their surprise when they find out I’m a 53-year-old registered Republican who never has – and never will – smoke, do drugs or drink alcohol – drives a hybrid because it pollutes less, and considers Barry Goldwater as a near perfect example of a leader who put the greater good above himself.

Of course, that solicits the response “Barry who” to underscore the point there’s an entire world out there – history, culture, and more – that too often when we as young people ignore as being passé or un-cool. Failure to explore things that aren’t all the rage, though, tends to limit you as a person and makes one susceptible to the whims of mass communication whether it is the new or old media or targeted marketing, peer pressure, as well as false limitations created by not going beyond your comfort zone.

The biggest mistake we all make at one time or another is assuming we have mastered the dance of life when in reality the steps change as the music does.
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