20 October 2018

Riding In Her Mortal Dress

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hand and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress

Those lines, from the second stanza of William Butler Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium, will never be found on the door of any plastic surgeon's office.  But for me, they have become an inspiration, if not outright instruction.

They are among the reasons I continue to call this blog "Midlife Cycling" at a time when many would argue that I am no longer in mid-life.  To them, I say that as long as I don't know when my life will end, I am in the middle of it.

Such an outlook provides an answer to another question.  If it doesn't, then perhaps Martha Stewart does.

Truth be told, I never paid a lot of attention to her because, in the days before saving episodes of TV shows for future viewing was possible, let alone convenient, she always aired at times when I couldn't watch them.  Also, I always sensed that I would never be able to replicate some of the things she showed because I didn't have a big enough living space or enough money, or I didn't just happen to have the ingredients on hand.

But now I look to her to solve a riddle.  Actually, it's one that never really exercised my mind before, but someone brought it up in a tweet:

So, this "seafoodpedia" thinks Ms. Stewart will "set an example" by giving up cycling.  Why?  I suspect that "seafoodpedia" is trying to rationalize his or her own laziness or indolence--or is simply upset that Martha is riding faster or better than he or she is--or riding at all.  For all I know, "seafoodpedia" might just be someone who hates bicycles or cyclists.

So, how old does "seafoodpedia" think is "too old to bike safely."  Well, apparently he/she would say 77--Ms. Stewart's current age--or younger.

While I might be practicing a form of denial in calling myself "middle aged", I think it will keep me from believing I'm "too old" to ride a bike--or do many other things.  With every pedal stroke, I can clap my hand and sing, louder, for every tatter in my mortal dress.

So can Martha Stewart--though, I must say, her "tattered dress" looks pretty darned good!


  1. Well... on a recent birthday, i rode double my years in kilometers to celebrate. My sister suggested to me that i was getting "a bit old" for that.

    That spring, i was on a brevet and rode the last 30km or so in the company of an older gent. i told him what my sister had said, and he told me his children told him the same thing. i asked him how old he was, and he told me he was 76.

    i told him that i wanted to grow up to be just like him!

    You don't quit playing because you've gotten old, you get old because you've quit playing!

  2. "An aged man... A tattered coat upon a stick..."

    Long have I known these words, and and now I am becoming that man, at a couple of years short of three-quarters of a century. "The stick man" has long been one of my titles, what with a BMI of 19 all my life. It is said that I can come home in the rain without getting wet by walking under the telephone line. Or that I can hide behind my floor pump. And a patch or two on my jacket does not bother me these days.

    However, Martha Stewart is unknown in the Nordic countries, and I had to look her up with "a well known search engine" (BSNYC).

    We are always in the middle of life, swimming in it. And we feel it most acutely on a bike.

  3. I'm 56. Snarky people might say I'm only middle aged if I live to be 112. What they don't know is that I plan to live to 130 so therefore mathematically I'm still a little shy of middle aged.

    Incidentally Martha looks pretty good on her bike for 77(my boss has that very same e-bike). Maybe hanging out with guys like Snoop Dog keeps her young.

  4. Phillip--Since I'm lousy at math, I don't trouble myself with such calculations. And, yes, she does look good. Maybe I should start hanging out with Snoop Dog.

    Mike W and Leo--Both of you ended your comments with words to live by. I will swim in the middle of my life, on my bike, and keep on playing!