So, you know how I like to set (temporary) rules for myself, right? Well, last February, my rule was that I was going to walk an hour every day.
That's right. An hour. Every day.
(Don't be impressed. On a good day - back then - I could walk maybe 3 miles in an hour. Maybe.) Anyway, the deal was that I had to walk for an hour. No rules on how far or how fast I walked. As long as I was out for an hour, it was all good.
There was one day that I was walking around my block after work and this very sweet little toothless black man joined me. He was pretty chatty. (Also, hard to understand. What with the toothlessness and all.) He seemed a little lonely, so I just let him talk his little heart out. He had been a truck driver in Colorado, but had become disabled and had moved to Arizona. He was living paycheck to paycheck. Half his teeth had rotted or fallen out, but he'd won sort of a free dentist lottery. (Some dentist in Scottsdale does a humanitarian thing once a year where he'll remake a disabled/homeless person's teeth, and he'd been selected.) He was going to have his remaining teeth pulled in March, and then once his mouth healed, would get dentures. He was a dog person. He liked kids.
I mean, I'm telling you, this guy was a taaaaaalker.
Right about the time we were coming up to the entrance into my complex, he asked me why I was out walking.
It's important to note the timeline in my life: I had been told about three weeks earlier that I had a new tumor. I knew what that meant. Possible treatments. Certain surgery. ... And with the surgery comes a really long, hard road to recovery. One that always includes using a walker as I regain my balance and learn how to walk again. A huge part of my walking-for-an-hour rule in February 2012 had to do with the fact that I wanted to be outside, on my feet, for as long as I could be.
When I hesitated to answer my new little friend's question, he kept talking. He asked if it was for exercise, if I was trying to lose weight, if I just needed to get out and think, etc...
As he talked, I said to myself, more than to him, "I am walking because I can."
A year down the road, seven and a half months after surgery, I am glad that I walked for an hour a day while I could. (I'm doing well to walk for half an hour at a time right now. That's a mile, and it's about my limit.) I can't do it anymore, but I'm really grateful for the memories I have of walking, for hours at a time, up and down the street that I live on.
It seems that, more than anything else, this last surgery has been an exercise in learning to be grateful for what I do have.
I am seriously grateful for the energy that I do have, because it allows me to do the things I need to do. (Namely, work 40 hours a week, so I can provide a life for myself.) I miss having the energy to do something as small as walking for an hour after work, but at the same time, I am really, really grateful for the knowledge that I while I did have that energy, I used it for something that I loved.
And someday, I'll be able to walk like that again.
Not today. Probably not next month. But someday.