Friday, May 20, 2016
Since having a major health crisis seven years ago, I have made my diet and fitness major priorities. As part of that regimen, I'm in the gym at least five time a week and almost always work out in the morning or right after lunch. On this day my schedule became cluttered with unexpected phone calls and more than the usual interruptions from Penny Lane, my adopted Golden/heeler mix. It seems on days when my mind is swirling with ideas to put on paper, she picks up on that energy and lays in the doorway moaning and panting to get my attention. I finally gave up on my goals for the day and began thinking about skipping my workout this sunny afternoon. On such a nice day, wine with rice crackers sitting in the shade of my oak tree with Penny sounded like a better plan. But then I began thinking about my diet the last few days. I'd deviated some with a little ice cream here and too many carbs there. So I was off to the gym hitting early rush hour traffic, but committed to burn off some calories for thirty minutes or so.
Making my way through check-in I decided I would just hit the bike machine for thirty minutes or so and then fight the traffic back to the house in time for a bite to eat before the Ranger game. The bike machines where set in a row facing twenty foot high windows with some video screens. A row of treadmill machines were positioned between the bike machines and video screens. My usual plan was to pop in the ear buds and listen to one of my many playlists while I spun away. Most people watched the various options on the monitors, with their plethora of news stations, sporting events, and assorted options. I focused on my music which soothed my soul and took me away from the world for these few minutes. I must confess I occasionally took a peep at the folks ahead of me on the treadmills. Some were young trim gazelles running so fast on the treadmill that it appeared their feet rarely touched the ground. Ah to be young again. But others struggling with their heavy waistlines walking at a modest pace, each pounding step testing the strength of the treadmill's foundation. But then a little voice inside me said.. "Bless them for getting up off the couch and making an effort" It really hadn't been that many years since I was 30 lbs heavier and rarely exercised.
I positioned myself in the middle of the row of bike machines. I adjusted the bike settings and then chose Jeff Lynne's ELO to accompany me on my ride. I was off with the first lines of All My Life. I had yet to do what some guy once did up on an elliptical who with ear buds in, music cranking, and eyes closed screamed out "CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SON!". Poor guy then mumbled "sorry".
At that moment a father and his daughter walked in from my right. I'd seen them before. Dad appeared to be in his fifties and his daughter was perhaps late teens to early twenties. They were Asian and his daughter was a young lady with Down Syndrome. This late in the day only two treadmills were open. Dad pointed to his daughter to take the first machine and he walked three positions down to the last open machine and climbed on. He started walking at a decent pace and glanced over at his daughter. She had not started yet. She was fidgeting around her machine....Looking at the settings..then doing leg stretches...then getting off the treadmill on one side and walking around to the other side. She was now facing her Dad and her expression was one of mild anxiety. I felt certain she didn't like Dad being that far away. Dad glanced over at his little princess and smiled and waved. She slowly climbed back up on the treadmill and began to walk. Then she began to change the TV channels in front of her. All the while she kept glancing over to Dad and he'd nod to her as if to say don't worry you'll be fine. She'd force a smile back and keep going.
After ten minutes or so a machine adjacent to the girl opened up and Dad began walking towards the now open treadmill to the left of his daughter. She could hardly control her emotions as he stepped up on the machine. As they walked along, now side by side, she would glance over at him with the most radiant of smiles. She just kept glancing over at him every minute or so. At one point she directed his attention to her video screen to show him some food dish. Dad nodded in approval. Once again she looked back at him with that beaming smile. At that point Dad reached downward and grasped her hand. Almost as if to say, nary a spoken word, "It's alright, I'm here for you". They held hands for maybe thirty seconds as I struggled to maintain a little macho facade riding my bike. Just thinking God bless her.. but then I thought He has blessed her with this Dad.
Walking out of the gym it struck me how all the day's events came together so that I'd sit down on the bike machine just in time to watch this wonderful example of love and caring unfold right in front of me. God knows there are millions of acts of kindness happening all over the globe but this one helped me forget for awhile about all the nonsensically contrived "events" of the day. The negatives in my own life were washed away from my psyche for a moment to begin anew.
Peace and Love,