The Charlie Bravo Story


Where to start? Dad and I were rolling through the Ozarks last weekend when we encountered a motorcycle and her rider on the side of the road. Following the unwritten rule of traveler’s etiquette that unfortunately is ignored too often these days, we stopped to render assistance. The rider was an older Englishwoman on a Honda CBR600RR, a very fast, nimble, race-oriented bike. All was well, she was just layering up her gear as the afternoon temps had started to drop as the sun had begun his retreat behind the mountains. After exchanging info, we followed her for a time to video her lines, and her riding was absolutely amazing.

Wait just a minute there, Charlie; did you say “older”? You do realize that the Englishwoman and I were roughly the same age; what does that make me?

Well, dad, they do say the memory is the second thing to go…

I find your line of thinking disturbing, Charlie, so I’ll take it from here; I recently found this unrelated post on the FB page of one of your followers, reprinted with permission here:

“To my over 50’s friends. I’d be interested to know your thoughts. In your experience, do you feel more invisible as you age? I’ve had a horrible week. I am usually ignored on pedestrian crossings, or get abused for trying to cross the road. Every day, trying to cross the road at school on the pedestrian crossing I have close calls with traffic. If I was a gorgeous 20 something, I’m sure it would be different. Today I had four close passes and a ton of abuse while out riding. Again, if I looked better in Lycra it might have been different. I have found over the last few years that I am abused, ignored and am generally an inconvenience to others. When I was young and attractive, it was never like this. Every day I’m a little older, and worth a little less. One day I’ll be too old to be worth anything at all.”

After reading these words, I had to go check out this person’s photo, and was blown away to not find a withered old crone but a vibrant, healthy woman in the prime of her life, and it made me wonder: how many perceptions of how others view us is manufactured in our own minds?

Or planted there be the media? Its sometimes difficult to maintain an attitude of self worth when every commercial that is obviously pointed towards those of our generation involves
hemorrhoidal treatments, life insurance, or some other humiliating condition. Judging from what the advertisers regurgitate at us, it’s easy to succumb to the belief that we are all sitting around on growths the size of grapefruits, wasting our grandkids inheritance until we clock out and let the funeral industry vultures swoop in to pick at their piece of the carcasses.

Well, they’re selling, but I ain’t buying.

At fifty, I remember thinking my life was over; kids grown up, career playing out, nowhere near the physical condition I had once enjoyed. What could possibly be on the horizon that could compare with what I had already experienced?

I had no idea that what I was looking at as a setback was in fact a set-up for the next stage of my life; those past experiences that I was viewing with such longing in my rear view mirrors were merely providing me with the foundation to launch into the next phase of my life. There’s a reason that a windshield is many times larger than the rear view mirrors, as where you’ve been is important, where you’re going is vital.

And “vital” is the key word here. I’m sure that the person that left Charlie to starve in that crate believed that her ability to contribute to society had passed, if it ever existed in the first place. But if any word describes Charlie explicitly, it is “vitality”, and it does you as well. Although the role and responsibilities in your life may have changed, you still have them, and your best days are always before you; just ask Charlie…

Charke diem!

Dad and Charlie Bravo, somewhere on The Road.

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