Wearing Out

I get asked, do I have any advice for anyone on how to preserve their own body parts? Not really, if I had, I’d have taken it myself

By Warren Miller

A not very famous author recently wrote, “One or all three of the following individuals created a mathematical formula that occupies three full sheets of paper, the result of which is that everything eventually wears out.” Those three individuals were Mark Twain, Einstein and Euripides.

Think about it for a moment. Everything you have ever owned, or currently own, is either worn out or in the process of becoming worn out. I know I have worn out a dozen or so surfboards, four or five bicycles, countless pairs of skis, several hundred slalom poles, six or eight windsurfers, about 15 automobiles and five or six computers.

As I write this story, I am a couple months shy of being 90 years old, so I have to deal with old age in person and therefore, quote this statistic: In 1900, the life expectancy of a person in America was only 38 years. Today the life expectancy is 78 years old.

Apparently I have already outlived my money-back-guarantee by over a decade, but along the way, I notice that various parts of my body have definitely worn out. And once they wear out, some of them can be replaced or helped and for others there is nothing that can be done.

In the 1950s I began to wear out cameras, editing equipment and countless airplane seats, while showing the ski movies that I had created.

In the 1960s I began to wear out sailing catamarans and then single-hull sailboats.

In the early 1990s, the doctor told me, “Warren, your prostate is worn out and you have developed cancer.” Fortunately I was in the hands of the Seattle Cancer Institute and they took care of me with radiation. They did take away the cancer but at the same time they took away my sense of taste and smell. Smell I don’t miss, taste I do.

As I have grown older, I discovered golf and unfortunately discovered quickly that life is too short to learn how to play golf.

Almost 10 years ago my eyes began to wear out from too many years of looking through the lens of a camera while filming skiers somewhere above 10,000 feet on brilliant, crystal-clear days – probably from not wearing sunglasses most of the time.

I have what is called macular degeneration. It’s not a very nice part of your body to wear out because suddenly instead of having 20/20 vision in both eyes, my right eye went from 20/20 to 20/400 and less than a year.

Somewhere in your lifetime one or more of your body parts will wear out and, hopefully for you, it will be a long time in the future and after they have perfected body part replacements.

Two years ago I noticed that I could hear people were talking but I could not understand what they were saying. Still, at most dinner or cocktail parties that Laurie and I attend quite often I am the only person there without an artificial knee, hip or shoulder.

I am very fortunate because we can afford a 24-inch computer screen and a program called Dragon Speak so I can dictate these columns and see them spelled out on my computer in 72-point type.

I also have a vision enhancement machine that I can blow up to a font so big that there’s only one letter on the screen at a time. I can read any book or anything printed. The only drawback is that the reading machine is quite expensive so I don’t have two of them. If I want to read anything, I have to go sit at my desk where quite often I’ve already been sitting for four or five hours writing stories such as this one. So it isn’t really relaxing to sit there, but it’s so much better than not being able to read at all

I get asked, do I have any advice for anyone on how to preserve their own body parts? Not really, if I had, I’d have taken it myself.

I’m going to try to break 100 on a golf course before I am 100 years old and that, of course, is for nine holes.

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