Drugan-Eppich: Can you touch your toes

Bret Belden

From the Loser
By Tim Drugan-Eppich

For every old person who has the agility and fitness of someone decades younger, there is a young person who can’t do anything. I am terrified that I might be the latter, so I’m working hard to hopefully, when I’m old, become the former.

Creaky joints don’t just jump on you all at once. Instead, they creep up like that extra cookie slowly adding doughiness to your thighs. And like that one morning when you can no longer zip up your favorite pair of jeans, there comes a depressing moment when you realize you are no longer as nimble as you once were.

My moment came after watching a video, a video in which a gentleman much better looking than I am, performed a series of handstands, cartwheels, and splits, in such a manner that I felt inspired to attempt the acrobatic maneuvers he made look so incredibly easy. I quickly realized that they were not easy at all. In fact, even the warm up proved nearly impossible. After pulling myself out of the couch that I had been sinking deeply into for the past few hours, I decided to touch my toes.

I was able to cup my kneecaps, but not much beyond that. From where I was looking, my feet were miles away. I felt my hamstrings being pulled tightly, causing more than a considerable amount of discomfort. The sensation brought to mind the string on a guitar. For I believe if there wasn’t skin in the way, when plucked, my hamstrings would have delivered a very satisfying tone.

Despite this obvious warning sign that I was nowhere near the physical state required for throwing myself around in a variety of ways, I am stubborn, and it takes more than common sense to dissuade me. I cleared a path through the room and tried to do a cartwheel. Let me walk you through this catastrophe. As I was placing my hands on the floor and preparing to kick my feet up over my head – a maneuver that my shoulders do not have anywhere near the strength to complete – my back threw out, seized up, and sent me careening into the table I hadn’t pushed far enough out of the way.

Thankfully, a pulled back, a bruised leg from bashing it into the table, and a headache from landing almost directly on my head (for the lack of aforementioned shoulder strength), was enough to convince me that I needed some intense rehabilitation of my youth. Even though I hurt myself, I still find pride that I didn’t attempt a backflip, which, in hindsight, I was unbelievably close to trying. I am an idiot, if you haven’t picked up on that.

So for the past few weeks I have been trying to allot some time every day to stretching out, so I’m not hobbling around like an old man when in my thirties; and let me tell you, stretching is a bummer. All of those motivational sayings like “no pain, no gain” and “fight through the pain” are cool to read, motivating even, because you aren’t actually feeling any pain at that given moment. The minute pain comes knocking at your door, those quotes become notably less invigorating, and instead take on a tone that taunts your sensitivity to physical discomfort.

Stretching pain isn’t quite like any other pain. It hurts just as much as other pain, but as any flexible person will tell you, just as the pain becomes unbearable… the real work begins. A good stretch requires you to put your body into a position that is excruciating, and then you go a little further, and then — get this — you have to hold it! If you’re worried about the day flying by, or life going too fast, I suggest you start trying to touch your toes. Because when every fiber in your body is letting you know it is being pulled to its limits — through intense signals developed through a precise evolutionary process — time slows to a pace that makes Usain Bolt look like a chubby kid running after an ice cream truck. I’ve had moments where I thought I had put in half an hour stretching only to realize a whopping five minutes had elapsed.

On the upside, I’m proud to say that this morning I grazed my toes with the very tip of my middle finger, and with this new talent, tying my shoes is no longer such a painful endeavor. So it looks like I’m turning the tide on my rapid journey toward old-manhood. And this experience has taught me that I’m still young enough to start new things. Except maybe a backflip. I think I’ll put that on the back burner for a while.

Tim Drugan-Eppich is a junior majoring in English.