Monday, January 13, 2020

Even children get older

I have taken much delight in my impassioned following of Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player ever, and, by complicated extension that you really don't want me to go into, possibly the greatest athlete ever. But he is 32 years old, and for a soccer player that means his days are seriously numbered. Whether he be magically great for another week, or year, or three years cannot be known, but there's way less sand in this top half of that hourglass than there is in the bottom half. Way less.

Will I need to pick another greatest athlete to follow then? Who even is out there? It's looking pretty clear that the gymnast Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast ever. And there is the Olympics to follow her through this Summer. But there are three problems with that. One, I don't like entirely judged sports where a panel of judges' scores determines everything. It's bad enough already in soccer with the referees, at least there are actually goals even if they're increasingly fond of disallowing them for various reasons. Two, I'm not keen on most of the stuff in gymnastics in between the tumbling, where they awkwardly pseudo dance around, and, perhaps most importantly, three, Simone Biles is 22, which, apparently is ancient in gymnastics. She's almost certainly closer to the end of her mastery than Messi is. She is old.

The fact of the matter is that all these performance based jobs have their age limits. Gymnasts, as we see, age out very fast. Sprinters have a last gasp peak at 30. Soccer players generally start to fade in their early thirties. Marathoners peak in the mid thirties. Painters, just to jump into the arts, hit their peak in their mid forties, supposedly. I read that one on the Internet and since the two greatest painters I've ever seen both died in their late thirties I have a lot of questions there. In music I've found that one might take over the world in one's mid and late twenties, but if one is really brilliant they can have a late career masterwork in their mid thirties. Nevertheless it's all a precipitous decline from there.

And what about writers like me? I first looked into this when I was in my early fifties, which was roughly the time of writers' late masterworks, and so I was satisfied. Now I am in my mid fifties and we must face the very real possibility that the greatest of my blog posts will soon be behind me. Yes, the quality here may well start dropping off to the point where you will need, like me with Messi, to consider following another wildly obscure, ridiculous and transcendent library blogger who writes every single day merely for the uniquely wee bit of good it brings to the world.

Good luck with that.

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