Join our Lenten Campaign 2024.
We have all found ourselves in what is known as a catch-22 situation. This is when we find ourselves confronted with a problem that is not easily solved because of an inherent contradiction or practical limitation in the problem itself. An obvious and all too common catch-22 situation is the mislaying of our glasses. We need to find our glasses but it’s difficult to do so because we can’t find what we’re looking for unless we’re wearing our glasses. The term was coined by the novelist Joseph Heller in his novel of the same name and has now entered into the language.
I’d like to suggest that another term be introduced into the language. This is the catch-62 situation. It is similar to catch-22 except that it applies to those who have reached the age of 62.
We do not become aware of the catch-62 situation until we come of age. Those who have not reached this golden age of graying hair will have to take my word for it but catch-62 is a reality.
Perhaps I should explain.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to stay in shape by regular attendance at the gym and by other forms of vigorous physical activity. The problem is that we’re only as strong as our weakest link and our links become weaker as we get older. If I try to push myself in the gym, I find that I am in danger of injuring myself. Do I cease to exercise to avoid injury and therefore become less fit and healthy? Or do I continue to exercise and learn to live with the injuries that prevent me from being able to exercise? A catch-62 situation.
This year, my left wrist abandoned me. It became excruciatingly painful to lift anything. I wanted to exercise my upper body but was not able to lift a plate of food from the table, let alone a stack of weights at the gym. A catch-62 situation.
It is only now that I’m almost 63 that I am coming to appreciate the value of catch-62 situations. They are frustrating. They are a challenge. They are an inconvenience. But then, as Chesterton reminds us, an inconvenience is merely an adventure wrongly considered. I am beginning to understand that catch-62 situations are an adventure because they are an inconvenience. It is the adventure of taking up our cross and following Christ on the path of accepted suffering. The weight of the cross is a challenge and when we fall under its weight it’s frustrating. But the weight of the cross is more than simply a challenge or a frustration or an inconvenience. It is a blessing.
The next time I find myself in a catch-62 situation, I hope and pray that I will not curse the pain or the inconvenience but that I will count my blessings.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.