The Track of Life
While walking around the park yesterday morning, my left leg suddenly jammed up in the middle of the track. I stood there wrestling with pain and agony while people kept walking by me without seemingly noticing my injury.
As the elderly couple walked by, the lady with the baby stroller jogged around me, and the ninja style runner twirled around the flag pole, I slowly gained enough strength to drag my leg around the park twice. I was going to finish, even if I had to walk holding one leg all the way back to the entrance where I parked my car.
Ultimately, I walked a mile, slowly, sure of myself, without regret. In doing so, I saw things the others missed with their eyes wide open.
My grandmother used to tell me, "no pain, no gain". I never really understood it until now.
The beautiful stripes on this bug on my butterfly bush caught my attention.
The age of awakening.
Sometimes I don't know if I'll make it to year 40. Having lived a destined life of hardships, hard breaks, and hard times, it's amazing I can see the glory in anything that passes by me on the fast-paced track of life.
It was in becoming physically handicapped that led me in a different direction.
Taking for granted in prior years the fitness from my youth, I now have trouble overcoming aching bones and energy fatigue.
But, from the perspective of someone that was forced to slow down, I'm determined more than ever to stay on track and not quit.
Have you ever experienced a sudden leg cramp while walking?
No pain, no gain.
This phrase is commonly used by fitness buffs to mean that when one works out, muscle gain comes from pushing through the pain of exercising.
But yesterday, after realizing at any moment in time, any one of us can become the next target of a leg cramp, twisted ankle, arthritis in the knee, etc., no pain means never having opportunity to gain new perspective from life experiences.
It's all a matter of perspective.
By the afternoon, the sun came out. The rain hid once again in the clouds above.
Had it not been for the phone call asking me to run an errand, I may not have been at the park early while waiting to pick up the children from school. And there, was a second chance. Staring at me. Enticing me with its gravel path and small bumps along the way.
Would I succeed this time in finishing without the pain that controls my every movement?
The choice was mine. It was either going to be a very short walk over the path to the school house and wait for 20 minutes or walk the path in incremental steps to the mile mark.
I weighed my options. It was warm out. I was dressed appropriately. There weren't too many others on the walking path except for the elderly couple back a second time as well.
My shoe crumbled the gray pebbles beneath my step as I walked out on to the track. I quickly felt re-energized. The sun helped heal the arthritis plaguing me before by the cold morning rain. I could finally stretch that muscle. It happened so fast, I even surprised myself as I turned around the half-mile mark and saw ahead the elderly couple that always walks past me as if I'm standing still.
What would I do? I didn't want to appear rude, but I had one minute to beat my old-time walking record. I had to walk around them for the first time. When usually they brush by me with ease.
They were blocking the path. If I went to the left, I'd be in the way of the girls practicing soccer in their red, white and black uniforms. If I went right, my shoes would get wet from the drops lingering on the last grips of short green grass hiding in the shadows under the shade of a maple tree.
Not wanting to bother anyone, I went to the right. My shoes got wet, but I was greeted by the biggest smile. My heart did a leap as I felt that this elderly couple was cheering me on. Go, girl, they whispered. My leg started to go bad again, but as the watch struck 3:10 p.m., I was determined now more than ever. I had to reach the end of the path by 3:11 in order to win my own race. So, I ran.
You can see the beauty that surrounds you if you look close enough.
I always stop and smell the roses now. It's refreshing company to my soul.
Before life slowed me down, I rushed around placing importance on time crunches, heavy work load, and where I would dine for lunch.
I raced through the fast track of life, becoming successful at my career, earning the respect of prestigious people in authority.
Taking time to sniff the flowers at the inner city park where the homeless found refuge under a park bench was not my idea of basking in refreshing air.
Often times I would race past elderly on the street, becoming annoyed at their presence in my path.
In order to fulfill a project, I would not hold the elevator for the lady with the baby carriage or even turn in her direction to hold the door when I stepped outside to find the closest overnight mail box. My only goal was to drop my perfect package in to a box where someone would pick it up and deliver it to its destination.
It wasn't my job to watch out for anyone else, just myself, on a busy street corner in the city that never sleeps. A city where there is no place to play except for night life bustling around the corner.
Where to find beauty
Go on a walk and observe your surroundings.
Hike in the forest and try to name the different trees.
Look on the ground at the colorful mushrooms.
Listen to the song of the wild birds in your yard.
Watch for tiny hermit crabs at the beach.
Though a broken daisy, still a lovely one.
My passion comes alive in those I help now.
In coming to grips with the fact that I may never know the fast-paced lifestyle I used to live for, I have come to accept and acknowledge that my life is dearly on a new track.
No longer living in the moment and scurrying through the rat race, I stop and take time to observe my surroundings.
Whether it's the lady with the baby who needs help opening the door at the post office, or the elderly gentleman who can't move out of his own way and forget where he is walking to, I'm there observing with purpose.
How can I help? Where can I go today to offer my assistance?
While I may be slowed down, my heart is in the right place.
No pain, no gain. Through my grandmother's words, I've come to understand that I didn't start to truly live life until life caught me by surprise and took me down.
When you are down, the only place to look is up.
Overcoming through confidence.
It's when you reach the moment of confidence, not from being top dog in everything you do or getting straight As without studying, but from life experiences that kick you down without a rope to help you pull yourself back up....that you will overcome your greatest challenges.
I now can't rush by the lady with the baby stroller. I'm often on the track trying to catch up to her.
Be confident in who you are, especially during times when you think you have no strength left.