29 August 2011

Walking against the Current

Since the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is only three weeks away, our weekends are consumed with getting in long distance walks.  It's been in the triple digits here in Sunland/L.A. area, so this past Sunday we woke up at 6:00 to head out to Pasadena to walk the Rosebowl a few times. 

When we started walking, it was still early, and there weren't too many people out.  Still, it was Sunday, and despite the heat, and the chance to sleep in, there were people getting their morning exercise.  The beautiful thing was that there were all shapes, sizes, colors and ages of people there.  Walking, running, cycling, skating.  Some walking dogs, some walking each other. 
I'm a people watcher and I've noticed that there are some categories that most walkers fall into:1.  The physically fit:  these beautiful people are in the skimpiest of shorts, and exposed to the world.  They run like gazelles.  Tan bodies that don't giggle.  (I've never been one of this group...but if I were, I'd flaunt it too!)
2.  The ones that are trying to get into shape....(my category).  These people come in all kinds of shapes from super large, to extremely thin....and we're all out there trying to get healthy.  Ani and I, we just walk.  But there are those that wear sweatshirts, even garbage bags, trying to sweat "it" out...whatever it is.  There are chubby moms with chubby kids trying to get healthy together. 
3.  Young moms and dads with their strollers.  I saw a lot of really fit moms...and some not so fit, but with those fancy strollers.  Jogging with their babies. 
4.  The individualists:  This group sticks out, but they want to stick out.  We saw a woman with a Hendrix-size afro, snow boots, and leggings, plugged into her mp3, singing loudly to the world as she walked.  Then "the Mountain Man" with his massive whiskers and hiking boots; the flourescent-clad foreigner group...anyways, you get the picture.
and then there's my favorite group of all....
5.  The senior citizens.  I love seeing them out walking.  The women are so beautiful and so "no nonsense".  They are out there to walk...to visit with their friends while walking.  They have learned life's lessons and are up and moving.  They are such an inspiration to me.  The men are there too.  Walking either with the women, or with their friends.  Joking, getting their exercise.  There's this really cool guy too....he reminds me of an old bulldog looking drill sargeant.  He wears a flashing red light around his neck and a hat, and in the course of our walk, we pass him several times.  I asked him Sunday how many times around he goes around.  "FIVE times every day."  That's 15 miles a day.  What an inspiration!
Sadly, I compare this group of seniors to my own mom who doesn't walk because she believes she cannot.   It's just easier not to.  Her arthritis and severely swollen feet, make it difficult, BUT, she can, and should.  But chooses the easier path.  And sadly, the less she does, the less she will be able to do.  My orthopedist told me the same thing, "Use it or lose it" was the admonishment when it came to my arthritic knees.  So I walk....and  I remember the lyrics of Neil Young's song...to paraphrase, "It's better to burn out, than to rust."  I'd rather burn out trying, than to rust not trying my best.  And hopefully, one day, when I'm a granny, I'll still be out walking the bowl.

Okay, so all this being said I came to another observation.  The first lap around I saw a sign I had never seen before.  It was a graphic of a walker, with an arrow pointing in the direction that walkers are supposed to walk.  I had never seen it before.  And not surprising was the fact that we were walking in the opposite direction.  Grant it, we weren't the only ones walking our way...but I realized that if we were all walking in the same direction - following the directions -- we wouldn't see even half of the people that were out there on that beautiful morning.  We'd only be confined to walking with those that walked at our same pace or that passed us by (or that we passed).  Yet, walking against the current, you got to see almost everyone at some point or another as you passed them by.  I think my life is so much richer for going against the current.  Not just at the Rose Bowl, but in general.

No comments: