Waxing physically and philosically...

After literally years of deliberation, and as a result of some delicate and some less delicate prodding, this blog is my effort to organize - to bring together - my thoughts about my work as a conductor and as a personal trainer, to rant and rave as necessary, to celebrate the little things and the larger moments of brilliance, and to share some conductive magic and life lessons gained through 'waxing physically and philosophically'.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pounding the Pavement and other Life Lessons

Yesterday I went for a run -- I run, but I don't love it; there are other things I'm much better at and would prefer to spend a sunny afternoon doing, but yesterday was different.  As I ran, I enjoyed the feeling of my legs moving beneath me as they moved me around Narrabeen Lake and appreciated being able to run.

I remembered back to the first fun run I ever did, a 5km run fundraising for the Achilles Running  Club, a Toronto based running club supporting runners with disabilities.  Though only 5km, this run was a real struggle for me, and at some point during that run -- perhaps when a runner with a prosthetic leg or a blind person being led by a running guide or somebody pushing a wheelchair ran past me as I puffed and panted along -- I decided to get better at running.  I remembered back to my half marathon - I still remember the 'of the moment' contempt I had for the person wearing a shirt that said "the pain is temporary, the glory is forever".  I remembered to look around at the beautiful place where I was running, to notice the ducks and geese and kayakers on the lake, to run and smell the roses so to speak because yesterday's run wasn't about my running or my fitness, but about KH getting out and about in his scooter, something he hadn't done in years.

KH had done half of his hard work already - it is a very difficult for him to transfer onto his scooter and then back into his chair that he uses at home hence it being years since he had been able to go scooting, but we had agreed that an outing would be awesome for our last session.  I have to tell you I've never seen a scooter quite like this - probably 20 years old with a little light switch to flick for forward or reverse, big crazy handles for steering like an old Harley Davidson.  When I took the cover off of it I actually doubted that it would go at all.  KH had asked (via his AAC) me how my running was, but I was more worried that I wouldn't be strong enough to push it if it choked en route.

Off we went -- and yes I had to jog, run, and sometimes even sprint to keep up with him, especially on the wide flat path around the lake, and even on the bush trails that were barely wide enough for the scooter.  Kids stared at us, not the usual curiosity filled way that kids often stare at someone with a disability, but in the 'that's so cool' way adults look at a cherry red convertible mustang  -- KH's wheels were by far the biggest and coolest anywhere around.

As I said, I enjoyed my run, spurred on by KH's sounds of glee when I couldn't keep up or started getting puffed, wanting to keep up with him to witness his enjoyment of the day, to be close enough that if he wanted to say something I could get his communication aid out for him.  I was grateful that I had worked on my running enough over the years since my first fun run that on KH's day out he didn't have to be held back by my limited running ability - and also grateful that KH wanted to stop and look at things so I had a few seconds here and there to catch my breath.

As I ran, I remembered SE learning to drive his very fast chair with his very limited right hand so that he could learn to play wheel chair tennis; he needed to hold the racket with his left hand which was normally his driving hand.  SE -- the mischievous show pony that he is -- ran me hard that day too, in a little park where the session could be watched by my colleagues, clients, and acquaintances.

As I ran, my mind drifted to other random fun moments I've had with people in wheelchairs.  Not CE moments, but just random slices of life moments.  I thought about getting trackside at the Indy 500 with MG; I though about SP after a few drinks taking her wheelchair down a small set of stairs where a portable ramp had been a few hours earlier; I though about the fun CW and I had while she was learning to cross busy roads in her new foot driven wheelchair; I thought about KW bringing a batch of his very special brownies in on his birthday to enjoy with the rest of  his MS group (yes I'm serious - all 5 of them were off chops and giggling through the whole session); I thought about getting around the wild markets of Hong Kong with M&LD; I thought about KD getting her wheelchair stuck in a pile of woodchips while geocaching in a cemetery; I thought about training FG for her Antartica adventure that included climbing down a ladder into a zodiac to get to the icebergs; I thought about YG coming out to cheer my dragonboat team on wearing her team shirt and hat; I thought about SP in the back of an ambulance on the way to hospital with breathing difficulties suddenly coming good when she realized how sexy the doctor treating her was.  As I ran I remembered my grandmother in her wheelchair, friends with several teenagers in her neighbourhood.  The kids came to shovel her driveway or help with the garden knowing that she loved rock concerts could take a carer with her - Ricky Martin, the Spice Girls, Savage Garden were amongst her favourites.  This is the same grandmother who concluded that people in wheelchairs don't get hugged as much as other people so decided to change that, throwing her arms up and insisting that everyone (the mailman, the bus driver, everyone) hugged her.

As I ran, spurred on by KH's vocalizations, laughing as KH waved at admiring kids we passed by, I thought about when I first met KH (detailed in my previous blog posting); that first day I got caught up in his disability and circumstances but yesterday I was hanging out, having fun, celebrating being alive with an amazing person.  I'm forever grateful for the amazing people I encounter in work and in life, and for the free attitude adjustments they offer.    And, I'm grateful for clients who become friends, who let me into their lives, and who share their moments of adventure and misadventure with me.

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