I like to think that growing old is a little bit of nature but a lot of choices. I’m talking mindset, physical state, and just a general approach to life. Obviously, we will all get older in age, and eventually, it will all be over. However, between now and then, much of how it goes is up to you.
I’ve always thought if we just put down a few markers, we will never let ourselves stray too far from a good physical state, mental state, and overall approach to life. It’s natural to start playing it safe, think you are too old, blame injuries or illness or think you are over the hill. Better to find out by failure than to stop trying.
Koko Head is one of those markers for my parents. It’s a 700m railroad track that shoots up the side of a volcanic crater. There are 1,048 stairs and the incline gets steeper and steeper as you get closer to the summit. There’s no shade, no water and it’s brutally steep. Many people think it’s one of the hardest hikes on the island and surely the final grade of the incline is about as steep as it gets. However, it’s short and most people can manage their way to the top at their own pace.
Fit hikers will get up in under fifteen minutes with some even going under ten. Your average, fit, young adult should be able to get themselves up in under 25 minutes without killing themselves. But what about when you are 60, 65, or even 70. When are you too old for a Koko Head jaunt?
Well, it’s just something you have to try to find out.
My parents hiked it eight years ago and have always held onto that memory. They’ve used it as a measuring stick, beacon of pride, or even as a bragging right. So, off we set to tackle Koko Head. My dad set off with determination and ended up smashing the hike with a time of 22 minutes. Not bad for an old boy. My mum and I made it up just after 30 minutes to complete the feat.
It’s funny how a 700m hiking trail can potentially give you renewed vigor in other areas of your life. Basically, any time you aren’t sure, you just whisper to yourself…. ‘I did Koko Head, I’ve got this’.
So what say that if they continue to stay in good physical shape and remain mentally sharp that in another eight years, they can still bag a Koko Head. I’m sure they can.
While your measuring stick may be a different hike, bike ride, feat of strength or endurance, or any matter of tasks. As long as you have a few and they help guide your day-to-day mentality, your week-to-week commitment, and your year-to-year focus on doing the right things and staying mentally and physically fit. You’re on the right track.