Knowing Your Limits

I’ve written a lot about pushing your limits in retirement. My basic premise is to use your retirement years to do all the things you have always wanted to do, but were afraid to do due to the danger present. I am always careful to add…get expert help to do so, to have experts there for you as back up, to train for it, to not be afraid to fail and then try again until you get it right. I am never in favor of just jumping into dangerous situations unless you have done all of the above…but I have to admit I have done so…stupidly.

So, a bit of thought about knowing your limits. What brought this to mind was a recent torn eardrum I got when I exceeded my limits. I am nearly 75 and things break a bit more easily than they used to. I seem to forget that from time to time.

So, I was out with manta rays at night off the coast of Kona, Hawaii. I was free diving (and my free diving friends would be quick to add…”No, he was snorkeling…he can not get down low enough to call himself a free diver.” I admit I am not great at free diving, but I can get down maybe 50 feet with no camera housing in my hands, no wet suit on and some weights around my waist. With my camera housing (which I always have with me) I can go down just over 35 feet…because the housing is rated for no more than 35 feet and could implode if I go lower. On this night I was diving down repeatedly to my limit to photograph a manta against the ocean bottom. In the attached photo, you can see my buddy, CJ, in almost the exact position I had been in several nights earlier. The close up of the manta was the last photo I took as my ear drum tore. When I got to the surface, some kid in the water said “Uncle, (that is what old guys are called in Hawaii) your f***ing ear is bleeding!” And…it was…I tore my eardrum. PS…it is healing and my hearing is returning, but still somewhat muted.

Another example…I just found out last night that my shoulders are shot…from years of repetitive trauma…mostly from using those shoulders as my landing spot when I get slammed to the bottom doing wave photography in the ocean. I try to land on my side because…if you land on your head, bad things happen to your neck…if you land on your back, bad things happen to your back…and it is unlikely that you will land on your feet as you are getting tumbled. So…I do the best I can to land on my side and shoulders. Well…that is now taking a toll and I am facing surgery to correct the problem.

What is my point in all of this? My point is that we all need to pay better attention to our limits as we grow older. I wrote a chapter in a book about front loading your retirement with your most active adventures…saving the river cruise for when you geezer up. I stand by that chapter…great plan. Just be aware that things will change for you as you age…God knows they have for me…so get active early and cool your jets a bit as you age. I am still working on the “cool your jets” part, but reality is a pretty good teacher.