As I aged, I have noticed a decline in my ability to balance. Apparently this is a natural occurrence leading to many falls in older people. So working to improve my balance requires effort. Lately I have incorporated a tip I learned from the New York Times 30 Day Wellness Challenge which has been running this month. It suggests standing on one foot for half of the time while brushing my teeth, then standing on the other foot for the other half. I use an electric toothbrush which beeps in 30 second intervals, so it is easy to measure my time on each foot. The thing beeps four times, allowing me one full minute of balancing on each foot. In a short time my balance has markedly improved. But partly it is because I remembered a tip I learned as a kid.
A train track belonging to a spur line of the railroad ran below our property. Because the train ran only twice a day, the tracks were empty most of the time. My brother and I spent time trying to see who could stay balanced walking on the rails the longest. Our distances improved after our father came along and taught us his method. “Never look at your feet. Always look at a point down the track and trust that your feet will move along the rail.” As I brush my teeth, I look across into the next room and balance for a longer time than if I look down.
But although the tip applied to balancing on the rail, it seems a good thing to remember in lots of situations. I think it would be helpful advice for cellphone users who are always bumping into me while they are looking down!