I’ve been training for a 5K race by stretching, walking on a treadmill and doing cardio exercises. As I crawl up the basement stairs panting, sweating and cursing, I think back to when I was in good physical shape. I think about how I got so out of shape by spending too much time on the couch writing and drawing, sharing my words of wisdom, and stuffing myself with unhealthy foods and drinks.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve measured my progress by seeing an increase in endurance, flexibility, and strength. Oh, how I long to have the body I once had! I’ve also measured it by how much I weigh.
After my morning workouts, I noticed I’ve been exhaling as much breath as I can just before stepping onto the scale to weigh myself (just like I did when I was a young athlete before a game or match). It’s a habit that was programmed into me long ago which doesn’t serve the same purpose today as it did back then.
Back then there was always a quest. It was pounded into me that I always had to be bigger, leaner, faster and stronger to fulfill that quest. Day after day, season after season and year after year, my friends / teammates and I were being smashed through that filter press of masculinity and competition. I had a feeling we were already dead or dying as we came out the other side.
I had an onlooker friend who would stop me in the school hallways and in classrooms from time to time and ask me why I was doing this to myself?
To her, it clearly wasn’t worth me destroying myself mentally, physically, emotionally and behaviorally for a trophy. She’d tell me I was a really good artist and writer and that I should be practicing those skills instead of my physical skills. I thought I would have plenty of time to write and draw when I got older. As it turned out, I almost didn’t make it past the age of 16, as she predicted.
Recently, I realized an old friend and former teammate had an onlooker who watched him from a distance as well. After his passing, she called him a “lost soul.” He was one of many friends and former teammates I’ve been worried about since we were kids and I can’t stop wondering if others will also have a premature death?
From time to time we all think about an injury, illness and the possibility of dying young. If you think about it too much, you may find that time has passed you by. In a blink of an eye, you’re now old and realize you forgot to live life.
Nowadays, my quests keep coming and people still ask me why I do them. I do so because I was given a second, third, fourth, etc. chance to live, even though I’m dying.
I’ve learned that life is about having a good Quality of Life. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, healthy or sick, or with someone or alone to have a good quality of life. It’s about being good to yourself and others, practicing mindfulness, spirituality and meditation, having less pain and more mobility, finding a balance between family, work, exercise, and hobbies, and breaking down barriers for yourself and others.
This morning after my workout, I exhaled out as much breath as I could before I stepped onto the scale. It doesn’t serve a purpose like it once did in my youth, but today it’s a reminder from the past that it’s not the last breath I’ll ever take and that I need to practice living healthy so I can have a good quality of life now and into the years to come.
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