Good Joints

About a week ago, I stopped postponing a trip I’ve been wanting to make, got the bus ticket online, cajoled my surprised wife into dropping me off at Michigan Tech at 10:30 pm, and settled in on a very cold bench in a Plexiglas shelter on campus. The bus was scheduled to leave at 11:02 pm, so I had plenty of time to sit and think about things.

A young male walked up to the shelter after I was there for a few minutes, and asked me if this was the right place for the bus, and what time I thought it might arrive. He was smoking a cigarette while we talked. After the pleasantries, he asked me if I’d watch his duffel bag for a few minutes. I said sure and he walked away. He was gone for quite a while. I was thinking I might like to walk around a bit myself, but I had to stay and watch his luggage for him.

He did come back in plenty of time for the bus. My efforts to engage him in a conversation led to fairly short answers. He had a cigarette going most of the time we sat together. His speech was quiet and slurred enough that I had to listen carefully to be sure I understood what he was saying. He sat on the bench next to me, got out his smart phone, and scrolled around silently while we waited. I did glance over once and looked at his face. He had the look of someone that has smoked a lot, and I doubt he was 20 years old. Since it is a habit of mine to look for stories, I spun one for this young man.

The story I made up was this young man wanted to be cool and starting to smoke when he was young. He quickly and firmly became addicted. There were probably other drugs in his repertoire. He looked lithe and slender, but his posture indicated to me that he did not exercise methodically.

As someone in his mid 60s who has become limited physically due to bad knees, I secretly envied the young joints this young man possessed. I really wished I could have had a conversation with him about choices he was making, but in the couple of minutes left before the bus came, I decided not to start anything. If he would have listened to me, I’d have said a few things:

“I firmly believe your body is your most important possession. And just like any piece of equipment, it needs good care if it is going to last. You have your whole life ahead of you, are an adult, and the decisions you make today will ripple through the rest of your life. Especially decisions that might result in addiction.

Be skeptical of any bad habits you observe in other people that can lead to addiction. Make an honest assessment of your potential for addiction, and the higher the potential, the more careful you should be.

On the other side of that coin, look around at your friends for examples of positive habits. While not as addictive as some chemicals, good habits will serve you well once you get them under your belt. Here are a few to chew on:

eat good food,
drink lots of water,
read and/or experience something that challenges you every day,
cultivate friendships with people you admire, and be a good friend to these folks,
get enough sleep to keep yourself healthy,
make being active outdoors an important part of your life,
choose your life-mate carefully, and cherish that person,
establish an exercise regimen that both keeps you fit and looking good.”

Not very exciting I’ll admit, but if you make an effort to lift yourself up instead of corroding those good joints, yours might just last longer than mine.

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