ONE DAY I CLIMBED approximately a hundred feet up by way of a series of paved switchback ramps. About a third of the way along it became drudgery.

Two days later I climbed approximately a hundred feet up into a geologic formation by way of a vague foot path through dirt, gravel, rocks, and boulders. It was fun the entire way.

I had to find and navigate the route: onto this rock… around that bush… across this sketchy gravel patch… squeeze between this boulder and the cliff face… boost myself onto that ledge… side step along here… find a foothold there… It was steeper and more difficult than Monday’s ramp, but it was mentally and physically engaging. It was a little test, not a chore.

We know repetitive stress can mess us up physically. But repetition can also mess up our minds. Doing the same thing over and over and over — whether difficult or easy — numbs the brain. Dumbs the brain. Makes us robotic — sometimes to the point we don’t realize we’ve become meat-based Roombas. We only know there’s a lot of drudgery. And an endless supply of dust bunnies. Such were my fifties.

Then my sixties arrived, along with awareness and a craving for change. Better late than never. No more trudging up the ramp of respectability and expectability to more of the same.

I jumped the railing and scrambled away.