Time to Change Modes

12 Jun

One year ago was the point at which I’d planned to retire from teaching taekwondo. Earlier that year some students and I had begun discussing a transition of some sort to take place in our program beginning in June 2020. June 2020 would be the month in which I would turn 60 years old. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic hit a few months before that and there was no such thing as smooth left for any transition.

I wasn’t planning to retire because of age. During the holidays of 2019 I l had looked back and looked ahead. I had started taekwondo training twenty-six years prior to then. I’d tested for and achieved my fifth dan rank at age 50. I’d never expected to stick around taekwondo in the first place back in 1993 when I’d started; I had imagined that once my four-year-old son had gotten oriented to class I might stop, since the only reason I’d signed up is because I HAD to join class with him so HE could start, him being so young.

Additionally, earlier that year, in April of that 2019 year, I had started a full time day job that took unique time, energy, and attention. Finally, and perhaps most so, my wife and I had a first grandchild coming in January 2020 and were expecting regular travel in our future in order to be in his life. It was time to start a different phase of life, a different era, a different mode. Grandpa mode?

Throughout most of this past year I’ve been in taekwondo-retirement mode, full program manager mode at work, and most joyously, have definitely been in grandpa mode.

When I was in my mid to late forties and teaching taekwondo, I would raise to people I knew the possibility of starting classes as middle-aged adults. Men, moreso than women, would comment that their days for something active like that were over. More than one noted that they were going to be a grandpa soon (at perhaps age 50). They were ready to slip into grandpa mode, and that didn’t mean the kind where you can run around after the little one and maybe climb the occasional tree. It meant, “Done with that kind of stuff.”

Well, if I’ve been in grandpa mode this past year, it has mostly been to continue to move and train in ways that respect my older body and physical status (mostly respect; it’s a day to day learning experience, for sure! Ask my family about an injury or two . . . ) yet still help me keep — or ever further develop — the strength, mobility, balance, endurance and overall vitality to chase after Christian, to crawl on the floor with him, to hold him in my arms and stand up with no assistance, to jump from rock to rock and climb a tree. Heck, I didn’t do that stuff when I was a kid, and now I have a chance to share it with my grandson! More so, I want to be a grandpa who CAN do stuff, who doesn’t squander any potential I yet have. To me, it’s a gift to be accepted, more so than a challenge to be met; treat the gift well!

So, I have retired from teaching taekwondo. I have also chosen to retire from keeping up this blog with its particular perspective. Just as I’ve entered a new phase of physical life I’m also entering a new phase of blogging life. I have started a new blog, just launched this very day, sharing this very post.

That new blog is called . . . Grandpa Mode! I will share my experience of physical activity, focusing on what I discover while I train and play as a 60-plus year old, adapting to aging the best I can figure out. Most important, in Grandpa Mode I hope that it becomes a community of sharing, learning, support and inspiration for people who read and participate. I hope readers comment and discuss. I plan to offer guest posts from other guys past age 50, 55, 60 and beyond to share their own experience, lessons and motivations in their aging physical activity. A blog might not end up being the ideal forum for such interaction; I will adapt to that in time as necessary. Until then, here we go!

Please, if you are inclined, click over to GrandpaMode.com and subscribe. Share it with others for whom it might be relevant.

Thanks for being a reader. See you in the treehouse!

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