If there ever was an oxymoron that sounded like an aspiration, this would have to be it. We all want to age like Grace Kelly in appearance, Bill Gates in the bank balance and philanthropy, Armstrong in the physique and Gandhi in the soul. The truth is that we walk into old age with as much happiness as the nobility would tread towards the guillotine during the French revolution.
The journey during the forties is perhaps the most difficult for women and the early fifties for men. All of a sudden the lunge towards the ball in tennis, a dashing pirouette in dance or an extended yoga position sends one scurrying to the medicine cabinet in search for the ultimate pain relief ointment. One can sit endlessly with the parent and discuss the merits of physiotherapy, balms and painkillers for only older people can understand the trauma of the body giving way. At a duty free outlet one spends as much time at the pharmacy looking at local supplements and miracle pain cures as one used to gaze in the Perfumery section during one’s youth.
It was rather appropriate that I picked up Andre Agassi’s autobiography (Open) after a session with my physiotherapist. What distinguishes this book from many others in the same genre is the detail to the sweat and grime behind the game of tennis. Sports lovers will love to read about the manner in which the racquet is strung, the grip created, the feet prepared for a professional sports person. The cramps during the game, the hydration required before a match, the mental build up before a major tournament and handling the depression after a loss. The loneliness of playing a match for three or four hours without any conversation and the toil it can take on one’s body. The reality behind Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy and the hours of toil from a pre nursery age makes one understand the tears behind the greatness. The book reads like an extended tabloid, lots of expletives, opinions, descriptions of a wild lifestyle and confessions.
Not everyone can lead a life like Lance Armstrong or Agassi for most of us sit at our desks during the day to earn the wage which takes its toll on the body. However the strongest muscle in our body is the brain and whenever one starts to feel the time bomb of age ticking, reading a book by a superstar sports person is bound to be inspirational and make one feel better.