Life looks different from this side of 55

IT’S already time to come off the rendang-induced coma and get back to work.

But for some people, those born in the last century for example, it is time to recover from all the excitement.

There was a time years ago when I promised myself that I would never do some things when I get older — walk with my hands behind my back in shopping malls, get a gym membership, price-shopping light bulbs, start conversations with ‘during my time…’ or give free advice to strangers. I am proud to say that I’ve never given free advice but I once belonged to a gym.

A gym membership, by the way, takes far more commitment than I anticipated. I had been enamoured with the thought of stomping the treadmills so regularly that at the end of three weeks or thereabouts, I could proudly show a before-and-after pic illustrating the kilos I’d drop. And in the downtime between workouts, I would be sipping free-flow coffee in the little lounge they had near the spinning class and talking with other spandex-clad gym members. What’s not to like?

But alas, gym is much harder to keep regularly, as I found out.

First, they had me undergo a fitness assessment before I could be let loose on those expensive lat machines and ellipticals. Also they must have been worried I’d drop dead or something.

They were short-staffed that day, and I somehow ended up in a spinning class full of beautiful, shiny and happy people. Basically you are riding a stationary bicycle. Can’t be that hard, right?

Then class starts and I’m wheezing to keep up with 20 year olds under the instructions of a super energetic and fit instructor shouting motivationals at us.

It was a 45-minute class but at minute one, I was already questioning past decisions, by minute two I was seeing flashes in front of my eyes and and minute two and 30 seconds

I think I was probably dead.

My suspicion is that a lot of people who accidentally took that spinning class like me are probably dead too.

I took exactly one spinning class at that gym and considered myself lucky to have survived.

For the rest of my membership period, which turned out to be much longer than I wanted on account that I had checked the auto-debit, auto-renewal box, I did more age-appropriate stuff — walking on the treadmills and drinking free coffee in the lounge with other old people.

No doubt this experience inducted me into the demographic that has no time to waste on trivialities and are less inclined to care what other people think.

I began to do things that I thought only old people did. Like spending hours looking at light bulbs in Mr DIY, for example. There’s nothing that screams of ‘I’ve got nothing urgent to do’ as comparing the fine print on light bulb packaging to replace the one in the kitchen that burnt out last night. It all makes sense when you’re on the north side of 55.

The good news is, some of these things turn out to be useful.

Not having any urge to give or receive advice is very useful. It negates going into stress every time I listen to the news or go through the average drive on the federal highway at peak time.

Politicians and netizens alike have lost the power to affect me with their comments and antics.

TV programmes, movies and conversations are also rendered harmless these days because I don’t have any qualms changing channels, or even walking away from conversations if they annoy me.

Rude drivers? I just say hasta la vista baby, and continue on my 60km/h drive.

Long queue at my favourite Asam Pedas place? I go to the economy rice shop next door.

And wait until I tell you that they let you on trains for half the price. — pic by AFP


  • ZB Othman is an editor of  The Malaysian Reserve. 

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