When I was growing up older people still often sat in their rocking chairs or on their porches and didn’t seem to do much of anything. At least, that’s how it looked to my child’s eyes. Of course I paid no attention to the fact that my grandmother had made breakfast for herself, my grandfather, and the six of us visiting from out of town. There was no microwave, no dishwasher, no garbage disposal. One of the after dinner rituals was that the women did the dishes while the men burned the trash in the alley behind the house. You walked into town to buy groceries and carry them home, clothes were handmade, blankets were hand quilted, and there was simply a lot to do in a day. Who needed exercise?
Yes, I’m that old. I remember my uncle getting up before the crack of dawn to milk the cow and feed the other animals. I remember going out to the cornfield to get dinner, shucking the corn for my aunt, watching her churn butter in the farmhouse kitchen. Unlike my aunt, my uncle, and their 5 kids, we always lived on an Air Force base, shopped at the commissary, and had neighbors. I was amazed when I visited the farm and the nearest house was a mile away. I didn’t know how much work it was to grow and preserve food. The very idea of my aunt putting on special shoes and going jogging is pretty funny to me even today. She didn’t do it! There was plenty else to keep her busy and work her body.
Now I go the the gym. OK, I drive to the gym. I don’t walk or ride my bike there. I see the younger people fitting their workout in before they go to work. I see the older people hobbling around on crutches or hand braces, working with personal trainers just to keep their mobility. I also see people older than I am who have amazing physiques. Sometimes I wonder what it’s all about for each of them. I wonder what it’s most about for me.
Is it because when I squat down to talk with a very young child about what kind of balloon animal would bring a sparkle to his or her eyes I find myself working hard to stand back up? Is it because I grew up believing I was fat and am only willing to allow myself to be overweight to a point? Is it because I know there are many preventable chronic conditions that weight management can help? And what keeps me from being more fit, from being an athlete? Sorry. You don’t get the answers to these. I don’t know all the answers myself. What I do know is that I value my life and want to live with wisdom and purpose, not just to live long.
I’m not fit like these folks: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/proof-that-old-age-and-high-level-athleticism-arent-mutually-exclusive/2015/11/10/d7a3c3b8-7cdb-11e5-beba-927fd8634498_story.html and I don’t believe I want to be. If that were my goal I’d be working harder on it. Maybe that’s their purpose in life. Maybe their purpose is to inspire us to be our best both physically and mentally. I simply pursue a different path to those goals. I’d like to get up on my stilts and go for a walk. I better work out first. I’d like to make great balloon art because I see the joy it brings. I need good coordination for that. Laugh if you want. It takes more strength than you think to manipulate those silly balloons. My purpose is to lighten your heart as you travel along the path of life.