Every once in awhile you see a sight so jolting it changes your perception, sometimes instanteously.  This happened to me on Sunday.  I dragged myself to the gym – and I do mean drag – and while half asleep lying on the cushioned weight bench, feeling

whiny, tired, and preoccupied with my writing life, my kids, my finances, my husband, anything and everything it seemed, I saw out of the corner of my eye a man walking painstakingly with a cane.  He looked to be about sixty, maybe younger. Every step appeared to hurt him because he scrunched his face tightly when he walked, dragging his body behind him. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one staring.  I noticed how people cleared the way for him, allowing an extra wide berth to pass. It was just incredible to see the way he moved at his own fatigued rhythm.  I watched him gingerly navigate his body down to the seated surface of the chest press, then lean over to place his cane by his feet.  Even sitting required enormous effort, yet he proceeded to do at least a dozen repetitions and when he finished, strained to lean forward and pick up his cane again before moving on to the next machine.  I had to fight the impulse not to rush and help him.  Because I really wanted to.

I wanted to know his story. Did he have bone cancer? Did he have a stroke?  What was motivating him to exercise in such a public setting?  Would he be all right?  Did he have a family?

I thought about approaching him but it just didn’t feel right. He wasn’t looking for help or sympathy. He only wanted to move his body, to exercise all that he’d been given.

I can’t say that I had the best workout that day, but I no longer felt whiny when I left.  The man with the cane had changed all that.

I hope he has a nice Thanksgiving. I know I will.

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