ON Kilter: No needles, no hospital; Senior Games heighten human spirit

Julian Myers, Huntsman World Senior Games, St. George, Utah, October 2013 | Photo courtesy of Shawn Kirton, St. George News

OPINION – “No needles! No hospital!” These were not the requests of an elderly man laying apparently helpless on the ground enduring a cardiac episode. They were the orders of a resolute man determined to live fully to his last breath, whenever that may be.

And the paramedics and firefighters on the scene, in the face of knowing the man clearly needed medical attention that included intravenous fluids and examination from a physician, had to accept his refusal for treatment and transport in spite of noble efforts to persuade the man to cooperate.

He had not collapsed from a fall while trying to negotiate his wheel chair. His emergency did not come about from a car accident. No, he collapsed after gallantly completing an 800-meter race in the track and field event of the Huntsman World Senior Games.

This 95-year-old man and his race had the crowd on their feet more than any other event I covered that day as an official photographer for the games.

And he had my respect from the depth of my soul.

While covering the games, I had the pleasure to meet some rather inspiring people from all over the country and the world. I spent most of my first few days shooting the track and field events which put much emphasis on individual effort versus the teamwork required in many of the other events in the games.

As I watched these seniors pound out their best in competition, with not only each other but with the clock, I noted a couple of interesting parallels:

First, there was a stark similarity between these people and my own young children in that they were a bit trepidatious, and their movements showed it.

Years on earth give way to a more cognitive awareness of our susceptibility to injury and the loss of time and quality of life an injury can render. It was evident these people wanted to avoid being hurt.

Children, though oblivious to why, seem to have the same apprehensions.

Second, the senior competitors possessed an unwavering enthusiasm for what they were doing right then, in that moment.

Like children, concerns of what they would be doing later, how they would pay for this or that, and who was watching and critiquing them, were far from there minds.

They were consumed with right now – with the challenge at hand, the camaraderie of competitors, and the challenge of the event.

Third, and somewhat humorous, was the seniors’ proclivity to be one-minded and set on just how they wanted things; this gave rise to occasional fits when things were not seemingly going their way.

I think perhaps what I was witnessing was an embodiment of a truth we almost unanimously take for granted: you only get one life and how you live it is not defined by some of the things we get muddled up with midlife.

Things like career and possessions do not register much on the radar screen of the youngest and the oldest.

What the “No needles! No hospital!” man was competing against was more than the clock. It was more than the other racers. He was defying the single most disgraceful thing a human being can do: give up.

He was saying:

I will not spend my last hours on this rock in a white room surrounded by monitors. I will lay my head down on the field where I battled and say “this I have done and done well.”

While I agreed with the good firefighters and paramedics that the 95-year-old runner needed fluids and a doctor, I knew he was right and I respected his defiant courage.

That I would be as resolute and brave as I gain years, to this I aspire. 

See you out there.

Ed. note 9:40 a.m.: The gentleman referred to in this column is Julian Myers, and he survived the episode related.  Myers’ determination and spirit are reknown and somewhat epic.  In 2010, St. George News published this feature story on him: Julian Myers: A Huntsman Senior Games icon


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Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of Shawn Kirton, St. George News
Photo courtesy of Shawn Kirton, St. George News

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