A not very famous author recently wrote, “One or all three of the following individuals created a mathematical formula that occupies three full sheets of paper, the result of which is that everything eventually wears out.” Those three individuals were Mark Twain, Albert Einstein and Euripides.
Think about it for a moment. Everything you have ever owned, or currently own, is either worn out or in the process of becoming worn out. I know I have worn out a dozen or so surfboards, four or five bicycles, countless pairs of skis, several hundred slalom poles, six or eight windsurfers, about 15 automobiles, and five or six computers.
As I write this story, I am a couple months shy of being a 90-year-old, so I have to deal with old age in person and therefore, quote this statistic: In 1900, the expected age of a person in America was only 38 years. Today, the life expectancy is 78-years-old.
Apparently, I have already outlived my money-back guarantee by more than a decade, but along the way, I noticed that various parts of my body have worn out. And, once they wear out, some of them can be replaced or helped. Others are plain and simply worn out and there is nothing that can be done.
As I phased in and out of my athletic pursuits, strength, agility and the desire to go for more in any one of them began to diminish and I saw that I could never achieve the ability that I wanted to, so I switched from one sport to the next and hoped for the best. I drifted through speed skating and basketball in high school and college while wearing out countless pairs of sneakers and a couple pairs of skates, I switched to skiing and then starting to wear out dozens of pairs of skis and several surfboards at the same time, just different seasons. Along the way, I also wore out a miniature house trailer that comfortably slept Ward Baker and me for two winters while we skied seven days a week.
In the 1950s, I began to wear out cameras, editing equipment and countless airplane seats, while showing the ski movies that I had created.
In the 1960s, I began to wear out sailing catamarans and then single-hull sailboats.
In the early 1990s, the Dr. told me, “Warren, your prostate is worn out and you have developed cancer.” Fortunately, I was in the hands of the Seattle Cancer Institute and they took care of me with radiation, so deal done. They did take away the cancer, but at the same time they took away my sense of taste and smell. Smell, I don’t miss, taste, I do.
As I have grown older, I found golf and, unfortunately, discovered quickly that life is too short to learn how to play golf, but I’m stubborn and don’t seem to want to give up.
In the middle of a bad divorce more than 40 years ago, my heart couldn’t stand the pressure, so it kicked into atrial fibrillation. All this does is take away a lot of your energy as you wind up with an irregular beat that even when sitting still it thumps around between 60 and 172 beats per minute.
Two years, ago I noticed that I could hear people were talking, but I could not understand what they were saying. When you’re hearing wears out, the first thing you lose is your ability to hear high fidelity and consonants are high fidelity and they are at the beginning and end of almost every word. Just get a hearing aid and if you are as lucky as I am to have a great wife who puts new batteries in the hearing aids for me, I can hear as well as I was able to when I was 15-years-old. (Well, almost. I still have selective hearing when my wife is asking me to take out the garbage.)
I have to emphasize that these are not complaints, they are instead facts. (Well, maybe there is a little whining thrown in.)
Almost 10 years ago, my eyes began to wear out from too many years of looking through the lens of a camera while filming skiers somewhere above 10,000 feet on brilliant, crystal-clear days (probably from not wearing sunglasses most of the time).
I have what is called macular degeneration. It’s not a nice part of your body to wear out. In wet macular degeneration, the retina bleeds and the blood prohibits images to enter the retina. In dry macular degeneration, the cells are dying and since there are no cells in the center of the retina to do its reflective work, there is a dark brown spot right in the center of every place that you look. So, when you meet somebody and they say hello you cannot see his or her face. You only see both of their shoulders and this big spot where his or her face is. But, I’m good at faking it and pretending I know whom it is.
I go to the eye doctor every 90 days and he puts a hypodermic needle into my eye and injects a cancer drug called Lucenta. I am fortunate to have a 24-inch computer screen and a program called “Dragon” to speak into so that I can dictate these columns and see them spelled out on my computer in 72-point type. I also have a vision enhancement machine that can enlarge a font so I can read any book or anything printed.
I get asked, do I have any advice for anyone on how to preserve his or her own body? Not really, if I had, I’d have taken it myself.
In my case, I’m going to try to break 100 on a golf course before I am 100-years-old and that, of course, is for nine holes.
Warren Miller is history’s most prolific and enduring ski filmmaker. Visit warrenmiller.net or visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/warrenmiller.