Tuesday, September 03, 2013


     On this, the first day of classes at my former school, this freshly retired teacher was a struggling new student at a different kind of school. For far too long this morning, my wife and I worked as hard as I’ve ever worked at learning something new, and, looking back, it looks like I was strictly a C student. The school was the Westerly YMCA, and the class was called “Silver Sneakers”, a name that doesn’t come close to suggesting the kind of mystifying exercises I was called upon to carry out. This was a class advertised as a relatively unproblematic approach to conditioning for seniors, but, to me, that’s a little like saying hikes in the White Mountains are promenades in the park. From the first minute, I felt like I was 14 again and floundering in a class beyond my skills. As the skilled and spirited teacher called out commands, I stumbled and fumbled and flayed around. When she wanted our feet to move to the right, mine went left; when my hips were supposed to swing in circles, they threw themselves back and forth like total flops as hips. It was like 9th grade math class all over again: I couldn’t understand the teacher’s sentences, everyone but me was making it seem easy, and all I wanted was to stay out of sight in the far back and break free from that room as soon as possible. I was an unsure and confused student, like maybe a few million others in these early weeks of school. My message to other befuddled students: Stay brave. If a furrowed old fellow like me can learn something new, so can you.   

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