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While You Can

Thoughts on making your time count.

I hate running. I’ve never been good at it. I remember when I was in middle school P.E. class and they made us run 2 full miles. After it was over, I threw up and they called my mom. What’s always confused me is that I don’t think it’s ever been from lack of strong cardio. Even when I was in college I was dancing, my degree the first year, don’t laugh, but I would dance a hard 12-14 hours every damn day. You could bounce quarters off my ass. But if you asked me to go run a mile, I couldn’t. 

I recall when I was a young married woman, one of the women at my church wanted to start running and I agreed to go with her. She said to me, after our first few runs, that she had never seen someone “so bouncy when they ran”. I don’t even know what that means. But yeah, I bounce. I consider that a plus.

So running has been the thing I want to do simply because it’s been such a challenge. A few years ago I started running. It took me about a year to work my way up to 8 miles. And I only did it once that I can recall.  I never stopped fully, I just haven’t been consistent. Then last May I fell, down a flight of stairs, chasing a damn cat. I could no longer run. Much less walk. My leg was blue from the knee down. My foot turned all shades of green. My leg got caught in the railing as the rest of my body flew down the stairs. Even two months later when I began to heal I would try to run and my leg would swell up like a balloon. Suddenly the thing I hated to do, running, felt like a privilege and not a curse. All I wanted was to be able to run again.

I don’t mean to write a depressing blog. I think this is one of the great life lessons we never think about. I think it’s important something like this is said.

My dad worked two jobs most all his life. He worked for the government and had an amazing job in which he made amazing money and he would always start some side business. Toward the end he got his A/C license and began installing heating and cooling units on his days off and most evenings. All he wanted was to work as hard as possible to retire and move to his beloved cabins in Colorado.  Two years before he was supposed to retire, he had a stroke.

He lived. And he is celebrating his 10th year of survival past the stroke. However, his life is very different. Thanks to my sister who cares for him, he went from bed and wheelchair-bound to walking on his own with a walker. He bathes himself and grooms himself. But his life has been about losing freedoms, not gaining them. And that’s when it hit me. We spend the entire first part of our lives gaining freedoms. We learn to walk. Talk. Drive. Vote. Live on our own. And so on. We keep gaining freedoms. And we never fully understand it’s an arch. You gain them, then you begin to lose them. You can no longer see without searching for your reading glasses. Some get to a point where they can no longer walk, drive, and sometimes, even speak.

I think we lose sight of the fact that life is such a grand privilege. Many of us have it so much better than most. If you can see, hear, walk, run, oh my, how fortunate you are. And I’m beginning to realize those who are loved, truly loved, regardless of their situation in life, have quite literally won life.

My dad, with his limited mental capabilities, doesn’t understand he won’t drive again. He consistently talks about getting well enough so he can drive to see his cabins.  And the only thing you’ll find in his pockets is the photos he carries around of his little piece of Shangri-la in Colorado.  It’s heart-wrenching knowing the truth.

We don’t always realize what a privileged life is, even the hard stuff.  One day I saw it. Someone posted this stupid little Pinterest photo. It said, Run, while you can. I put on my running shoes and I went running. And I’ve been running ever since. Yes, I bounce. It’s just how I’m built. And yes, I stop every so often grab my side and drop a few f-bombs. Yes, even chihuahua’s running with their owners pass me. But I run. And I do it because…I can.

What are you doing today? What little mundane task is a huge blessing in your life? Recognize it. Love it. And do it with all you have. Because like all things in life, it won’t always be there. It’s life. And none of us, get out alive.


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