Eighteen And Counting. My Journey To Here.
Eighteen is the number of years I have been walking for exercise every single day. Before that, I could not muster up much appreciation for merely taking a walk. I had been playing racquetball for a couple of hours 3-4 days a week – and I loved it! I would run back to play racquetball RIGHT NOW if I had younger knees. But the knees, replaced tho’ they are, will just not tolerate racquetball or tennis.
Racquetball was my first true love. Everything before racquetball was merely preparation for racquetball. Time spent off the racquetball court was time wasted. I played anytime I could, for several hours at a time. And, I played to win. I was nice and courteous on the court, but my goal was to beat my opponent – or at least give my opponent a good game. One that would keep that person wanting to play me again and again.
Then my knee pain took me to the Orthopedic Surgeon who told me my racquetball days were numbered. He told me something like, people like you need to walk, swim, or ride a bike. What! Walking seemed so, oh, boring. Swimming had always been hard on my hair and my skin. Not to mention, expensive to find a club with a pool. Biking, a very pleasurable activity of my youth, seemed like an Emergency Room visit just waiting to happen. Me, helmeted and knee braced, competing with automobiles for space on the road was not appealing.
I had a couple friends who walked regularly. My mom walked every day with her friends. I thought I’d at least give it a try. My original goal was to walk to and from the grocery store almost exactly one mile from my front door so I could check out movies. Remember when grocery stores had movies to rent? It was eighteen years ago.
I leashed my little dog and headed out. Because I had a house full of teenagers, sometimes I walked two or three times a day. Every day, I got a few steps closer to the grocery store. Before long, I made it to the grocery’s video section, tied up the dog, checked out some movies, and headed back home. Two miles accomplished.
Did I say I had a house full of teens? If walking won’t get you out of your own home, fleeing the raging hormones of adolescence, then nothing useful will. The dog was game. The weather mostly cooperated. I took my sail out of their wind. They would follow me to the bathroom and yell at me through the door – but they NEVER followed me on a walk. So much for the energy of youth. I was much more energetic – and motivated.
I began walking several times a week with my very long-legged friend Sal who, I feel to this day, often humors me by slowing her lanky pace to match my own stubby-legged gait. We talked, laughed, occasionally cried, but always walked.
What I had once thought of as boring had become central to my life. I was feeling better and losing weight. My kids were benefitting by not having me in their business. Sal and I never missed our walking ‘dates’. We got our kids raised and solved most of the world’s other problems on those walks.
As time went by and my endurance improved, I was able to tackle trails at local parks. I increased my circle of friends, focusing on new friends who wanted to walk. My house did not fall down, the bills got paid, groceries were purchased, laundry washed and folded. Nothing bad happened during my one hour ‘sessions’ away from the house. All the work was still there (as no one else did it. Credit my dear Mamaw for that insight.) I was better able to take care of all the business of living, improve my health, enlarge my circle of friends, and find a reliable spiritual source all by just going for my walks. Where else/How else does one get all that for just 30-60 minutes a day?