Author’s note: This is a piece I wrote five years ago. I made several weak attempts at getting it published—all unsuccessful. Now, I’ve decided to post it in short chapters on my blog. All names have been changed and some details. Since I wrote this, my beloved dog, Baxter, has died, I’ve gained weight, again and have three novels published and two more in the works. Like the river, life goes on is usually wonderful! Enjoy and feel free to give me feedback. Bill Mathis
The River Path – Chapter 5
The joggers and runners are fascinating. Being flat footed, my short legs not in proportion to my longer torso, I have never been able to run well or jog. Even when skinny, the best I could do was waddle, or a pain filled lumber. Which is what some of the joggers do, gasping, feet slamming the ground, arms flailing, some women’s huge breasts flopping in desperate need of proper support. Yet, they are out there, doing it, pain and all. Their eyes with a sense of their past, their demons, that chocolate cake, faces gleaming with a vision of their determination to change. They are out there. Me? I’m simply out walking with my dog Baxter. And my thoughts.
My thoughts of when I weighed sixty to seventy pounds more than I do now. Of when I stopped getting on the scale at 265 pounds, my size forty-six pants tight. I couldn’t climb stairs without stopping for a breath, and could barely reach my butt to wipe it. I recall the diets that didn’t work, the gluten free one which did. I think about the twelve pounds I gained in the last five months. My chagrin and sense of helplessness rising again. Then, I think about the joggers, their success, envision their happiness.
Sometimes, I start to beat myself up, remember how easy it was to walk fast, ride my bike ten to twenty miles, start telling myself that I should be doing more than the two miles I walk twice daily. Of only riding five or six miles when I do ride my bike. Then I remember my CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), my slow improvement but never a full recovery, being part of a research group in bio-feedback, self-talk, the importance of staying positive and balanced. Balance—still a concept hard for me to grasp and implement.
My mind comes back to the present, the river, the path and I think about thankfulness, about nature, about love. I laugh as Baxter erupts into his crazy, got-the-rips circles.
Most mornings, several runners float by, feet barely touching the ground, moving easy, their panting light, controlled. Lean, trim, beautiful bodies. Barely clothed, almost sensual. Like the blue herons that glide by, I get no sense of them having rocks in their past, or demons chasing them. Yet I know better. Every river has rocks or mud or suffers a drought or a flood. Like the river, many have dams that have to be portaged. Life is not the surface of an easy flowing current. No, life is not an easy current.
I think about my father-in-law’s suicide. My two marriages and divorces. My spiritual ups and downs. A major depression. My CFS. I also think about grace and mercy and love. I think about forgiveness. I think about grace again, a lot. I think about beauty and art and creativity, about nature, my photography, the way written words can inspire.
Like the almost ephemeral runners, I step softly on the peaks, the highs, the beauty. I don’t forget the valleys, the ruts, the pain, but they alone cannot control or define me. I just keep moving, as lightly as possible, grace on my mind.
Stay tuned next Wednesday for Chapter 6…