I may have mentioned a time or two that R.J. and I live next to a state-run park. It covers thousands of acres and has trails for just about everything from horses to mountain bikes. Since I’m usually not the most active person R.J. decided it would be best if we started with walking.
It’s actually more like hiking because were going up and down hills and through creeks, but there’s a trail so it’s not so bad. When we started it was still pretty cold so the trees and bushes and underbrush hadn’t started getting their leaves or blooming. Now everything is green and filling in nicely.
We’re steadily adding distance to our walks. It’s tough. I’ve had to deal with blisters, aching joints and muscles, and just an overall feeling of not wanting to do it anymore. Imagine that. We start on a walk and about halfway through my body seems to say, ‘Nope, not gonna do this anymore.’
It’s not like I can stop. We’re miles away from the car. But that’s exactly what happens, usually when I’m halfway up the hill that I’ve come to believe was put there just to kill me. Or if it wasn’t then R.J. is using it to try to kill me by making my heart explode.
I know, I know, he’s making me go up the hill so my heart won’t explode. I’m not a complete idiot. It only seems like it when I have to do strenuous exercise. Then I become the tantrum-filled 3-year-old that still lives inside me. I want to flop down on the trail and scream for R.J. to go get the car.
I don’t. I don’t even complain too much – at least I like to think I don’t – anymore. Sure it hurts, but not as much as it used to when we started. And now that everything is coming alive in the forest it’s nice to witness the changes.
One of these days I’ll remember to take my camera…
The other day we were driving out of the park and we saw this young couple with a dog crossing the road following one of the paved paths. They were a lot like us, only maybe younger. There was one difference, though.
The woman was in a motorized wheelchair.
We stopped at the intersection and I tried not to stare. I didn’t want to stare because she was in a wheelchair. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs before. No, I was staring because I was in awe of the courage and determination it took for them to be in the park.
I have full use of all of my limbs and I didn’t want to be there half the time. It took very little effort, comparatively speaking, for me to be there. And I had been in mid-complaint when I saw them.
You can imagine how small I felt in that moment.
Good health is something that is so easily taken for granted until it’s gone. Then we wonder where it went. How could our bodies fail us? Sometimes it’s something beyond our control, but most of the time it isn’t. Our health fails because of a long series of bad decisions about what we eat and how much and not moving – at all.
I have no idea how that young woman ended up in the wheelchair or even who she is. What matters is that she was in that park doing something other than hiding from the world and feeling sorry for herself.
And for that I applaud her.
And I thank her for the reminder.