Monday, April 15, 2013

Advocate What?

There are a lot of people advocating individually and as groups and it's probably a good thing to do. The following seems to be a reasonably accurate meaning.

"Advocacy by an individual or by an advocacy group normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an asset of interest." (

In many ways what is being called advocacy now is what was once identified as protesting. At least the goals are similar. My attitude about Vietnam was certainly motivated by moral or ethical principles and I hoped that the stance I took would influence the opinions of a small part of the public. Now, forty years later, I find myself believing that there are too damn many things to support, or dislike, or want to change, so that it's hard to see how anyone can invest enough effort into any one thing for it to matter. There's also the possibility that I am just being curmudgeonly since that's known to happen along with the passage of time.

I have thought about some kind of advocating, but I can't see how what I care about would have much impact on "social systems and institutions." What I'd like to advocate is more activity for people of advanced age. Seniors? Mature adults? The label doesn't matter much since those of us who are it know that we are. Aging is the most simple fact of life to comprehend. Might not like it, but it's real obvious. What isn't so obvious, when you are in the midst of getting old, is how much you can do to confront the negative consequences.

There have been several times during the past couple of years when I have encountered moments and circumstances that have challenged my willpower and ability or both. Losing my job, for instance, gave me an understanding of how critical it is to have a reason to get up every day and shower, get dressed and do something. If losing a job can do that how overwhelming it must be to lose a spouse or become seriously ill or disabled! When I learned of my need for cataract surgery I felt the touch of deep fears of becoming dependent. A detached retina some months later reaffirmed and emphasized the harsh reality that my physical and emotional well being is made more tenuous as I age.

I say it here a lot and maybe it becomes boring to the few regular readers of my ramblings, but the single thing for which I can advocate is the joy and value of riding a bike. Having never been much of a joiner (at least not since the 70s) I don't visit Senior Centers and don't have a bunch of local acquaintances who are contemporaries. Still, I see and encounter and know people who seem unwilling to challenge the passage of time. Of course I can't win! The pale rider will overtake me one day, but not easily.

What might I say to convince a Senior to put some fun between his or her legs and ride? Probably something to overcome the idea that riding a bike is hard or dangerous or expensive or requires wearing those tight shorts. I spent a lot of time during the initial draft of this posting listing objections and counter arguments, but I kept reaching the same conclusions; riding a bike is inherently dangerous and so is not making an effort to remain active.

The options we have are to do or not do. I enjoy the challenge and the sense of daring that riding a bike delivers. I enjoy the satisfaction I gain when I complete a long, recreational ride. I enjoy the satisfaction I feel when I complete a grocery run. If I over do my recreational rides I feel it, but at least the soreness and aches are self induced and will disappear over time. My arthritic knee always hurts and does not hurt more because I ride. I also know it isn't going to stop hurting if I sit around and become inactive.

Keeping yourself entertained is pretty easy. Television can keep you slack-jawed and entertained from rising to bedtime. I have "my shows" like most people, but I refuse to become captured and unmoving by someone's idea of what is interesting. Riding is my self-created physical activity of choice. Gardening works, too. Walking can satisfy. But, damn! I have to do something.

Maybe I'll go for a ride and think about whether I can be a good advocate.

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