Riddell: A calculus for Zoomers
A Zoomer’s Unique View of Grand County
Whether a Zoomer Boomer or a Boomer Doomer, chances are somewhere in your early elementary education, you had the enviable experience of being exposed to what was euphemistically known at the time as “New Math.” Ah yes—who can forget those carefree days of intellectual tiptoeing through the Tiny Tim tulips of Venn diagrams and null sets? And now, in reflection, isn’t everyday just a little bit better because of this learning? Just recently I thought I overheard a couple of informed shoppers referencing Venn diagrams as they were discussing the merits of where to buy organic vs non-organic carrots. But for those of you who for whom this recall is a bit dim, take heart!
It is no great revelation to any senior that all of us have an increasingly difficult time remembering things. Whether its where we left the keys to forgetting what the key is for, it’s an undeniable challenge of aging. Now combine this recollection deficit with a Zoomer’s diminished balance and strength and you suddenly realize that there is an opportunity, perhaps even a need, for an entirely new math process.
Zoomers are characterized by an infectious happiness, joy, and satisfaction in their personal commitment to enjoying the recreational opportunities that abound in Grand County. Indeed, the challenge of enjoying a new activity is not so much in mastering it as it is in simply trying it. I myself wrote some sports columns a few years ago on the joy of learning to snowboard. My instructor was a young man from Oklahoma. For the life of me, I cannot remember his name but I also cannot forget that he was from that mecca of mountain sports known as Oklahoma!
But as many peers would attest, the trying now is a bit more painful than the trying might have been ten or fifteen years ago. The inevitable bumps and bruises seem to take a lot longer today to heal up than in the past. A bottle of ibuprofen seems to empty out a lot faster than it used to. Bottle expiration dates are no longer a point of concern. Good thing because whether x-country or downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snow biking, snowmobiling, sledding, pilates, yoga, whatever, there is a better than even chance that a fall or stumble will occur.
With a proper attitude of resiliency, the dedicated Zoomer responds but there always resides in the dark corners of our subconscious the doubt over whether this hiccup is a harbinger of more sinister things to come. He whose name is not to be spoken, aka Mr. Al Zheimer, is always lurking and the surety of avoiding him is always lacking. So what we need is a quick formula to counter this nagging doubt, one that allows us take solace in the effort and gratefully accept and acknowledge the bumps and bruises, and, most importantly, encourages us to fearlessly press on.
I have come up with a calculus for Zoomers. Simply stated, you count and add up every time you fall. Each one of these counts as a negative one. Then count the number of times you get up (assistance is allowed, indeed, encouraged). Each one of these counts as a positive one. Simply add the two together. As long as they add up to zero you are good to go. If the sum is a negative number, well you can discuss next steps with your rehab specialist. If it comes out to be a positive, then I’m afraid Mr. Al is in the building.
This is in no way intended to minimize the terrible toll that Alzheimer takes on both individuals and families. The great tragedy of this disease is the ever-present longing and awareness for what the future could have been and the knowledge that it never will be. But it also seems to me that we spend a disproportionate amount of time wringing our hands over something we do not have control of and not nearly enough time enjoying the time we have been given. So go out, try something new, and, for once in your life, try your best to be a zero!
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The sport of ski mountaineering is on the precipice of officially becoming an Olympic sport.