I had a small but powerful moment yesterday as I began my run. I had just finished writing a long, long post (which I haven’t quite decided if I will post or not) about my experiences over the past 3 years with health, fitness, body image, etc, and immediately after, I went out for a run to clear my head. Within only the first 20 seconds of my run, I happened to turn my head coincidentally at the just right moment to make accidental eye contact with a young man, maybe a few years younger than me, who was sitting in a wheelchair. He was clearly disabled from the waist down and has likely been in a wheelchair his whole life, and in that brief moment we shared, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of sadness and of appreciation at the same time. Perhaps it was the look he gave me, as I trotted past him in my fancy running gear, or perhaps I am just projecting what I thought he was saying to me with his soulful stare, but he really pierced right to my heart, and right after I passed him, I found myself short of breath and fighting back tears unsuccessfully.
I spend far too much time wondering if my thighs will ever not touch, or if my butt will be as hard as a rock, or if my knees will ever heal from my running injuries, and in that moment I suddenly felt so small and so pathetic for caring about such petty details. I have legs that work! Beautiful, strong, functional legs, and maybe they don’t run that fast and maybe they feel heavy sometimes when I run and maybe I have thighs that touch, but holy shit, how awesome is that?? I have those things. I. Have. Legs. And they work, really well.
I dedicated the rest of my run to that boy, and every time I felt lazy and wanting to quit, I reminded myself that if I was in a wheelchair, I’m sure I’d give anything to just take one step. So I kept putting one foot in front of the other, and being thankful each time I could do so. I am lucky and I want to keep taking care of myself so that I can have this fortune for decades to come.