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Older, but not so wiser

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By Jay Cason

If one of my mentors was correct when he repeatedly opined, "When a person stops learning, he starts dying," I don't need to worry about my preordained encounter with the Grim Reaper anytime soon.

At almost 62, I'm still learning valuable new lessons. Unfortunately, much of the recent lessons-learned might be easily categorized "Should Have Known Better."

I should have known better two summers ago, when even though heavier than ever, I undertook a wilderness trek in the wilds of Maine. Insufficient conditioning, plus a flu bug carried from the Bluegrass, caused me to pass out near the crest of Saddleback Mountain. The next thing I can recall was a paramedic hovering over me pumping fluids into my arm.

After several liters, I was able to hike out under my own steam, but what an embarrassing experience for one who has been involved with wilderness treks for more than 40 years.

I should have known better.

I also should have known better 10 months ago when I ordered a $1,300 camera via the Internet without thoroughly investigating the seller. When the camera arrived, it was accompanied by a receipt for $1,799 instead of the anticipated and agreed upon price of about $1,300.

I immediately sent the camera back and after about a month of battling the rascally company, the money was returned minus $99 for shipping and handling. I should have known better.

And I should have known that leaving the camera in the front seat of my vehicle, even when locked and parked in my driveway, was an open invitation for theft.

But tempting fate, that's where I left the replacement camera I'd purchased in Lexington a few weeks after getting hosed by the Internet company. By the time I'd lost a day of work dealing with insurance issues and replacing the windshield the thief had shattered to swipe it, the camera was probably sitting on a shelf in some pawn shop.

I should have known better.

But at least I usually learn something from each fiasco and rarely make the same mistake twice.

For example, I still enjoy wilderness treks, but work myself into trail condition before taking on serious mountain terrain. And please note that the replacement camera was purchased locally and not online. And never again will I leave anything of value in my Honda, unless it's parked in my garage.

Perhaps I just need to wise up.

On the other hand, if my old mentor was right, that might not be the answer.