Essay from a Readers Digest Contest

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Tom Longboat
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Essay from a Readers Digest Contest

Postby mr.dani » Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:27 am

I dont know if anyone else has read or posted this, its from a summer RD issue. I figured it might be a nice read, I thought it was very inspirational.

Step After Step



My ears ring. My vision blurs. The ground I stand on seems to shift and my sense of balance betrays me. My heart pounds. I sweat. My mouth is dry. I find it hard to swallow. Fear wraps its icy cold fingers around my throat and slowly tightens its grip, squeezing the life out of me. This is it. I am going to die.

One, two, three, four, five… Seconds feel like hours.

Silence. I am still here. I am still breathing. The ringing has ceased. It, once again, has passed.

I see doctors who do not care about what is happening to me. They rush through a series of questions, cut me off when I try to clarify a point and send me on my way, with a prescription in my hand and a knot in my stomach.

I feel utterly alone. I feel like a very thin string is anchoring me to reality. I feel like one quick yank could propel me into the dark world of the insane, the perpetually misunderstood.

My small apartment becomes my refuge. I am reluctant to venture outside. I live in fearful expectation of the next attack.

Then something happens. I make a decision.

Spurred on by words of advice from family, friends, various authors and naturopaths, I pull my old, battered running shoes out from the back of my closet, dust them off and try them on. They feel good. They are snug and warm and add a bounce to my step. I walk around my apartment, feeling a twinge of confidence.

I take the shoes off and place them by the foot of my bed.

The next morning, after another restless night (I no longer remember what a good night’s sleep feels like), I put on the shoes, a baseball cap, sunglasses, and I head outside, into the blazing July sunlight.

I am scared of walking a block or two and being seized by an attack. I am scared of people pointing, of drivers pulling over and asking if I am okay. I am scared, but I am even more fed up with being scared. I have had enough. I am determined to conquer what ails me.

I walk. Cautiously at first, looking down. I play that old children’s game of “don’t step on the crack” and I smile, remembering all those walks to school. Gradually, I quicken my pace. I create my own beat. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. It becomes a chant in my head. As I focus on the chant, my mind seems to clear. My brain is alert.

I lift my head up.

What I see astounds me. Colours so bright I am grateful for the sunglasses. A medley of greens and reds and blues and yellows, like splashes of fingerpaint, decorate the day. Everything is clear, sharp, more vivid than the most vivid dream.

Is this colourful palette a new phenomenon, or has it always been here, embellishing the days of people too distracted to notice?

Sounds tickle my eardrums: children squealing, dogs barking. Meaningless banter escapes from an open window. A skipping rope rhythmically taps the pavement.

I walk and walk and walk. There is no turning back now.

People are washing their cars, mowing their lawns, sipping tea on their front porches. Two little girls sit on the grass, skinned knees exposed, devouring a dripping watermelon as though it is the most exquisite fruit they have ever tasted.

I meet other walkers. We smile at each other and nod silent hellos.

Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Every step makes me feel stronger. Every breath pushes me forward.

I return home feeling more alive than I have felt in weeks. As I take off my shoes and place them by the foot of my bed, I vow to keep walking. I vow to walk myself back to health.

And I do.

Health does not return overnight. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and still, some days anxiety rears its ugly head. Walking is only part of the remedy, but for me it is the most important part. Step after step I slowly rediscover myself.

As I walk, I ponder, I question, I connect with the world around me.

My morning walks inspire me to embrace the hours that lie ahead. My evening walks allow me to reflect on the hours that have passed. Every walk is an adventure, an opportunity to expand, to heal, to feel happiness in its simplest, purest form.

I started walking in an attempt to regain my health. Today, I walk primarily for the pleasure it brings and the lessons it teaches.

Walking has taught me to slow down. It has taught me the importance of being fully present and aware in every moment. It has taught me that no matter how busy, confusing and disheartening life may get, the journey to inner peace is always within reach—all one needs is an old pair of running shoes.

This article was the first prize winner form a RD essay contest.

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Bruce Kidd
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Postby KaTyBrown » Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:55 am

:) ....this is what I need to do. I can't seem to get going - I have lost all my initiative and umph. Don't know why, maybe because I am afraid to injure myself again. I have been using my exercycle and my ball (but the ball has a leak and keeps deflating - I am not sure if I should use it because one day sitting on it I will go plop! :oops: ).
Also, afraid of slipping on these streets. Sheesh.... what the he.. is the matter with me????????? :x

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Tom Longboat
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Postby gypsymom » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:28 pm

Oh, man. What a beautiful story. Brought tears to my eyes and I could identify with much of it. Thanks so much for sharing that one, mr.dani.

KaTyBrown, I hear you. Last winter I lost my initiative and was so afraid of the snow and ice that I dropped out of the walking/running scene for almost ten months. (And I didn't even have health concerns, as you have had!)

In getting out into the snow THIS year, though, I have found that my fear of it was the worst part. The actuality of it is really very tame. Sure, I have to keep my eyes on the ground a bit more and watch for the really slick parts, but for the most part it's not as bad as I feared. I am determined to keep going all through the winter.

I hope you find your inspiration; what you need to get you confident enough to start taking those first steps. If it helps, you have a cheering section here on RM!

"All great fitness starts with a single gallumph."
~ dgrant

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Kevin Sullivan
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Postby Jo-Jo » Tue Dec 05, 2006 3:11 pm

That was inspiring...thank you for sharing this.
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"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer" -Albert Camus
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