Being hard of hearing makes playing team sports a bit difficult, especially if you happen to think that rules are somewhat irrelevant and can’t keep them straight. Once playing softball for P.E. in elementary school I remember being on 2nd base (how I made it all the way there must have been nothing short of a miracle). It’s really tricky playing softball because even though the batter hits the ball, it didn’t necessarily mean I should run to third. There were nuances to this beyond my comprehension. Anyway, the batter hit the ball and I saw my classmates on the sidelines waving their arms this way and that. Hmm. Do I go? Do I stay? I made to go and their hands shot up. I edged back to the base; their hands shot forward, I made to go again. One of my classmates cut through the mixed signals and screamed, “Run, stupid!”. It was no wonder that I was the proverbial last person chosen for a team.
My dad really wanted me to be in sports. He got me a softball bat and a ball (which booked a direct flight to my nose), we played frisbee, we tossed around a football, and he tried in vain to teach me how to play golf. To make him proud, I joined cross country. I could at least run straight. He was very pleased at my ambition to be a runner and took me to the mall to find the best running shoes. He weighed each potential shoe in his hand for lightness and bent each for flexibility before settling on the perfect pair. I went to trainings where we ran. And ran. And ran. My parents were flummoxed at my lack of speed; they figured that being such a little person, I’d excel at cross country. My feet , they determined, were made of cement (which explains a lot about my driving). I also quickly learned that if someone were not chasing me or if I was not chasing Alex P. Keaton (sigh), there really was no logical reason to run.
Somewhere along the line, I “discovered” walking (it’s akin to looking for your glasses when you’re wearing them). This I could do. I can even walk fast, so that I’m marginally athletic. There are no rules to walking besides looking both ways before crossing the street, and my side doesn’t cramp up. Not only that, research also supports my choice. It’s nice to the joints and it’s weight-bearing so my spine won’t curve over and make me shorter than I already am.
Walking has many benefits besides having a healthy heart. It allows one to think and reflect. You can take time to see how your body feels and changes through the walk. I feel a sense of gratitude that I am able to put one foot in front of the other and move freely. You can observe things in nature or even in your neighborhood. You can slow down or stop to admire a lovely garden or paint trim. You can walk anywhere. Last year I had some amazing walks: I walked around Independence, MO on the very same sidewalks Harry Truman walked. In Portland I took morning walks in Pier Park, a hilly wooded area that was quiet and peaceful. On the Fourth of July I had a morning walk through Ashland, OR and saw the town prepare for the parade– including the fire department shining up the fire truck. It was such a slice of small town Americana that I really felt the sense of community. It was because of my love of walking that I sought all of that out. You can’t get all of this on a softball field or whizzing right by it running.
They say that the best kind of exercise is one that you’ll do, so readers, what exercise do you love?