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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Walking Toward Hope

Photo: barto
The first time I took to the walking trail at Churchich Park many months ago, I sensed all of us were walking or running from something.

The trail is flat and meanders around life on the softball field, tennis courts and playground. The trail’s flatness is less intimidating for the broken. Anybody who can walk can navigate her curves. 

A short, elderly woman wearing a purple jogging suit slumbered toward me one day, her hand grasping her Chihuahua’s leash as he pulled her along. Her eyes met mine, which is walking trail code for “Please acknowledge me.”

I took a chance and stopped. 

“His feeties are covered in mud – looks he’s having the time of his life,” I said, pointing at her dog. He looked up at me with his head tilted as if to, “What’s the problem?”

The woman smiled.

“I think you’re right,” she said. “The dirtier he is, the happier he is.”

We both knew the exchange was about more than her dog. I suspected she was lonely, so she fled her home for the walking trail. I could be wrong of course, but I doubt it. I trust the code.

During another walk at the park a guy dribbled a soccer ball past me multiple times. He stayed off the walking trail, dribbling the ball in the grass next to the trail – probably partially as a courtesy and partially because soccer fields aren’t made of cement. Apparently, he was trying to get in, or stay in soccer playing shape. I got the feeling he was running from stagnancy – not wanting to give up on a dream.

Since I started walking on this particular trail I’ve seen fathers and sons playing catch, fathers pitching to their kids, middle-aged men playing tennis, families navigating the playground, young men playing basketball with no thought of waking up with sore knees or stiff backs, twenty-somethings playing softball and 40-somethings attempting to play softball.

It’s a beautiful mixture of life.

I took to the walking trail a couple of years ago because I have type 2 diabetes and one of my A1C tests didn’t delight my doctor.

“You need to get more active,” he told me. “Even if it is just walking.”

So I hit the trail, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that all of us at the park are either walking or running from something.


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