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Recognized Social Butterfly

TWO VIGNETTES

Those were the Days

Although I never joined any sports as a teenager, I was very athletically active at the beach in Revere, Massachusetts.  I swam far from shore as long as I could in the frigid summer water, I vigorously ran barefoot in the sand until I was winded, I threw a pimply rubber ball high in the air and managed to catch it every time as it plummeted nearby; and when my younger brother was with me, we both dexterously played long-distance catch with a smooth ball.

I took a sabbatical from physical activity during my ever-studious college days, but when I taught for thirty years at Craven Community College in New Bern, NC, I got my stellar groove back on: I daily ran a mile in my neighborhood in a breathless seven minutes. At the college, I occasionally ran over rough terrain with some of my much faster colleagues. But they marveled when I unleashed my patented sprint at the end of the run.

A few times a week, I swam half-mile laps at the local rec pool. In the ocean and in some creeks (I never saw any alleged alligators on my route), I swam exactly 1000 strokes. On a summer vacation in the Rockies, I fearlessly and perhaps witlessly swam from one embankment to another one in the Yellowstone River. The water temperature was in the low-fifties.

My running and swimming escapades gradually ended, however, after my wife and I retired to spend half the year in Hawaii and then two years ago moved there permanently. Although I enjoyed swimming at first, I lost my powerful strokes because of knee arthritis, and I subsequently had to stop running. Daily walking became my last recourse. Whereas in earlier days whenever I walked, I usually outpaced anyone nearby, now my stride became much more subdued.

For a while, however, I found another outlet: Hiking fairly easy trails with my wife for up to ten miles. I got pretty good at avoiding exposed roots and climbing steadily ahead. But as my arthritis has worsened, now involving my hip, hiking is no longer an option. I can still walk a mile and a half in thirty minutes, but it is at times a struggle.

I have accepted my limitations with as much grace as I can muster. Physical therapy in conjunction with Tylenol has helped somewhat, but my sporting days are over.

Nonetheless, I am comforted with the healing words of my favorite romantic poet, William Wordsworth: ”Splendour in the Grass.”

What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

 

Contrasts on my Walk

The last lap of my daily walk was a mixed bag. As I rounded the bend, I saw a young man firmly sway against his female partner. The woman did not appreciate his gesture. She emphatically scolded him: “I am not your fire hydrant.” Go Figure!

A few paces later, I heard a loud, grating male voice. As I got closer, I noticed who it was: a usually mild-mannered, good-humored young resident at my Leisure Heritage condo. He was outraged at a woman nearby. He viciously called her an incorrigible drama queen and he said that he despised her tantrums and that he was done with her for good. As I passed by, I could almost see the venom dripping from his mouth.

Just before I approached my condo, I scurried around a grubby, grizzled unmasked homeless man who frequently stations himself with his overstuffed shopping cart on a grassy area next to the Waikiki Health Center. I have never seen anyone approach this unsightly person until today. All of a sudden, a young woman sidled up to him. Evidently not repulsed by his unsavory condition, she began chatting with him. The man, who always looked miserable, quickly smiled when the woman engaged with him. He even chuckled. What a transformation! A little bit of genuine human interaction can go a long way.

It is hard for me to get writer’s block when I see so many fascinating people (whether indignant or compassionate) as I take my daily walk around the block.

schlomo
Social Butterfly

"A little bit of genuine human interaction can go a long way."

 

I think these are the most beautiful words ever written! Cudos @schlomo !

 

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Phil Harris, actor and showman, to John Fogerty of CCR: “If I’d known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
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