Get busy living, or get busy dying … there ain’t nothing in between.
— Stephen King, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” from Different Seasons
Last night I had to run errands on the way home from work, and when I got home, more errands awaited. Take care of the dogs, put things away, start a load of laundry. As I stood at the sink washing dishes, I thought to myself how nice it is to be active again.
People ask me if I have ‘more energy’ now, and I have used the term to describe how I’m feeling these days, but I’m not sure that accurately describes it. In actuality, I am happy to be moving. I’m happy to be on my feet and doing the busy work of everyday life instead of sitting, doing little to nothing.
The human body was built for motion of all kinds, and for the last several years, mine was not being used in that manner. I felt tired most of the time, due partly to sleeping poorly and carrying around a lot of extra weight. My body was wracked with chronic pain that resulted from a lot of different health issues, some of which were worsened by the weight, so most of the time I didn’t feel like getting out of my chair if I didn’t have to.
Maybe some of you consider that laziness, but I have to defend myself here. I am no stranger to hard work, and in most cases (with the possible exception of housework) I wanted to participate, but was physically unable. Nagging car accident injuries and arthritis hampered me further. Physical activity became more and more difficult, so I did less and less of it. Every part of me hurt, and some days, getting up and making it in to work was the best I could do.
So the cycle of inactivity, weight gain, and pain continued, and I felt powerless to stop it. I recovered from my injuries and my hips were replaced with shiny titanium ones, but the improvements to my activity level were modest at best, and I was still exhausted.
I used to chuckle at old folks, who always seemed to recite their litany of ailments when asked, ‘How are you?’ but I’ve noticed that I do the same thing. Not all the time, but sometimes getting together with friends and family means we’re all discussing our various maladies (much to the youngsters’ amusement, I’m sure). Health becomes our focus as we age, because as grownups, we no longer feel like we’ll live forever. The subject of mortality is always on our minds, especially when we lose our family members, friends, and coworkers. So naturally, we talk about it, and it usually becomes a grouse-fest.
But it’s counterproductive for me to dwell on that. My life could be so much different and so much worse in so many ways, and I am always mindful of that. I am thankful for what I have and where my life is going. It’s so much better to focus on what I can do and celebrate my return to movement. Getting healthier has been such a blessing to me; it has made a huge difference in my life. It’s often not easy, but that’s when I remind myself how far I’ve come.
Recently I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors with the Mister – clearing brush, pulling weeds, pruning, planting – and aside from a couple of times where my enthusiasm bested my common sense and I paid the price, it’s been liberating. It feels great to push, pull, dig, lift, and reach again. I had been fading in a prison of pain and fatigue, built by me, for so long that I forgot how good hard work can feel. I realize I missed the satisfaction that physical labor can give.
I still have days where my pain level impedes my activities, but they are fewer now and seem to be less intense. I think my mental state has something to do with that, too – I am happy to be moving.
Am I jogging, working out, or lifting weights? No, I’m nowhere near that. You won’t see me on any fitness blogs or running down the road, training for a marathon. I’m no athlete. That’s not my goal, anyway. I just want my body to work like the magnificent instrument it was intended to be.
And I’m getting there.
image credit baptfrack