Yesterday I arrived at a meeting nearly an hour and a half early. Traffic had been better than anticipated and, then, well, um, I got the time wrong. So in that hour and a half I decided to lap the mall that the restaurant was attached to, I mean, why not?
Joe decided to head off and do some other stuff, he was with me to provide transportation and to sit in on the meeting, while I did my laps. So, I began. I hadn't really done any long distance pushing since my trip to England and my muscles were a bit resistant, particularly when they woke up and realized what was happening, but I pushed through it and I pushed hard. The mall wasn't busy so I had long stretches I could go at maximum speed.
There was a young man in the mall speed walking, he was maybe 20 or 21 years old and he lapped me a couple of times. He was very, very, fast. On his third lap he put his fist out for me to 'fist bump' I think it's called, and I did so, without really breaking my stride (what do you call it when pushing cause stride isn't the right word?). It was a nice acknowledgement from someone else in the mall doing what I was doing.
The next time he lapped me he slowed down his pace but spoke really rapidly. He quickly explained to me that he wanted me to understand that he didn't fist bump me because I had a disability or for any other reason, it was just because we were both obviously working out and it was a sign of encouragement and camaraderie (he didn't use that word but that's what he meant). Clearly immediately after we had 'bumped' it worried him how I might perceive it. This impressed me because sometimes people do stuff to people with disabilities that are really about us being disabled rather than us being part of a group focused on something else. That he would know that and worry about it was a bit of a surprise.
I told him that I saw it as acknowledgement between two athletes and I laughed self consciously at the use of that word in reference to me. I'd never used it before and it felt uncomfortable.
He said, "Don't laugh man, you are really fast in your chair and you work hard, the word works."
Maybe it does.
But, I'm not there yet in how I see myself.
Way back in elementary school, I was pretty much always either the very last or the next-to-last to be selected for physical education teams in gym class. I took a semester of softball as an elective gym class in college, and somehow managed to catch the ball exactly one time the entire semester, entirely by fluke. (I stuck my mitt out and suddenly it was there. People told me that I looked more surprised than anyone else on the field that the ball was actually in my mitt for once.) And never hit the ball at all, when it was my turn at bat. And for a long time in my teens and 20s, I was pretty sedentary, only doing what walking I needed to do to get places--which was still more walking than it would have been if I had been driving a car, but not a huge amount either.
A long way of saying: I've never been athletic or well coordinated.
But just yesterday, my exercise tracker tells me I did more than three and a half hours of exercise. Some of that was just a few random steps here and there, like going down the hall way to the bathroom. But it also includes nearly an hour of resistance training exercises with dumbbells ranging up to 12 pounds each yesterday, and a ton of walking after work. And I still feel good enough to do it again today, if I manage to get the time. I did about 45 minutes of exercise this morning and still have plenty of energy. So I guess I am "athletic" too, but like you I have trouble connecting myself to that word. I suppose that the image I have in my head of what an "athletic" person looks like is basically thin and muscular, and I don't look anything like that: Although I am not as overweight as you, I am still in the "obese" range.
That's so cool, all of it.
Sometimes we need other people to show us things.
I think of you as an athlete-in-training - whether you're going to do races or play basketball or not. Good to get acknowledgment from others with NO vested interest.
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