The Mick Says

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July 11, 2010 by David Gillaspie

If you didn’t know anything about sports and saw this shot, you’d be a baseball fan.  Mickey Mantle could do that to people.

If your first peewee team was called the Yankees and all the other guys slapped you and called you a Damn Yankee, you’d be a Yankee fan for life.  Baseball could do that to you.

I can’t be the only one to have this revelation since Mickey Mantle was the sports icon of his era.  How good was he?  Numbers don’t lie.

He’s not at the top of the home run list, or the longevity list, but he is tied with Bo Jackson for fastest time running to first base. 

The man had wheels. 

He also had seven World Championships, three AL MVPs, and twenty All-Star Game appearances. 

What resonates more than his baseball days is what he said after baseball.

“If I knew I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

No one says that when they are twenty, thirty, or even forty.  They’re not old enough.  When most of the men in your family die at thirty-nine, like the Mantle men, would you expect to get old?

In the court of ‘fast living’, was Mickey guilty or innocent?  We know he ran fast, but what is fast living?  Stay out too late?  Drink too much?  Eat too much bad food?  Spend too much time with the wrong crowd? 

Pick any one and you’d be right.  Pick them all and start the mortality clock.

No one feels sorry for a superstar, and Mickey Mantle was a super star before the term was coined.  He was an Oklahoma boy at home in New York City playing for the best team in baseball.  No tears to shed here.  He did it all, more than once.  And the clock ticked on him.

Yours is ticking too.

Is there a mountain you have yet to climb?  A journey of dreams you’ve wanted to take?  Are they people you want to spend more time with, just because?  Start making plans.

If you are a normal healthy person, you won’t stay that way.  At least that’s how it seems.  Who worries about bones and joints?  Someone with bone on bone knee problems, that’s who.  If you are overweight and gaining more, and you can’t stand up and walk, you won’t be climbing any mountain soon.  If age is working against you, remember what The Mick Says.

If you have headaches that turn out to be tumors in your head, remember what The Mick Says.

Everything has a perfect time and place.  Zen sends a reminder, “no snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”  I think Zen w0uld agree that the right time and place to start taking care of yourself is right now, right where you are.

Don’t wait on diabetes or cancer.  They won’t wait for you.  They’ll jump on you when they want without permission.  It’s like the guy who dreams of owning a concealed weapon permit and packing a heater; why wait until your vision and hearing start to fade? 

Memo to gun dude: buy your hand-cannon while you can still see the right target.  You don’t want to accidentally cap the meter reader or the census guy.

Maybe you need to set a goal to get started.  Try this: go to bed early and get up early.  Re-set your body clock.  You’ll be surprised at the results. 

How many older folks take depression meds because they feel tired?  Try sleeping on a regular schedule instead.

How may people are such creatures of habit that they think they can’t change, can’t lose two pounds, can’t get to the gym, can’t lift a suitcase?  They think their only move is slowing down the spiral of age a little bit when they have other choices.

You can’t stop the clock, but you can tone it down to where you can ignore it.  Take better care of yourself and the first thing you think of in the morning won’t be which body part hurts the most.  If you have the thing called chronic pain, find a way to make something hurt in a good way, a way you control.  Even the wheelchair bound can do arm curls and trunk twists.

Does you foot hurt where you had surgery?  Does your hip hurt from a long ago car accident?  Does your bicep ache from four sets of curls?  Pick the one you want to live with.  Talk about a gun show and make your own.

Do you have a hairy boiler hanging over your belt buckle like the others in your family?  A fat flopper isn’t part of anyone’s DNA, it’s a lifestyle choice.  If you choose to do something about it, don’t put that extra scoop of ice cream in your bowl.  Pass on the chocolate syrup.  Every weight loss strategy works according to the participant’s will. 

Will you follow the program? 

Will you keep the weight off? 

“If I knew I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

No matter what age you are according to the calendar, you’ve lived long enough to start taking care of yourself better.  Start small and add small increments.  One step, then another.  Not to go all recovery movement here, but the little things add up to big things.  If you build a mental block against hogging down at the trough, you will lose weight.  Lose weight and your body’s systems regain their balance.  Move around and you’re no longer sedentary where things clog up.

Mickey Mantle came around before the twenty-four hour news cycle.  We didn’t know as much about him as we do sports heroes today.  There was no TMZ or fanhouse documenting what time he rolled out of Toot’s Shor’s Restaurant, or who he left with.  A Rod would have appreciated that when he visited Madonna.

The Mick departed in 1995 at sixty-four years old.  He busted through the family average of thirty-nine.  Now there’s another Oklahoma super star nearing middle age.  He’s not related, though he looks like he belongs on the Mantle family tree.  Will he take better care of himself?

Will you?


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