“Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. Oh! The places you’ll go!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
So I have been pretty hard core in my approach to physical fitness and pretty much still am. I love to hit the iron religiously and I also get in a good bit of cardiovascular training as well. However, this year I have watched and listened to my dear 78 year old mother and decided to try her approach to cardio by simply slowing down and walking in my neighborhood instead of running long distance or doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I have been walking regular now for a few months and today was really even better than other days.
And for the same reasons Mom’s walks are great for her.
Mom walks her neighborhood everyday all year, weather permitting. It always makes her happy to be out and about chatting with her friends and neighbors while getting her exercise in. I love that she enjoys her daily walks. Recently, an older Hispanic man who speaks no English began walking with her. Mom does not speak any Spanish, but the two have become friends despite the language barrier. It is enjoyable for them both, and a relaxing way for the gentleman to work at learning the English language.
Now, here I am, this strength trainer who only goes after exercise hard core still at 55 years old, I am slowing this year and doing some of what Mom does. Walk my neighborhood on my non lifting days and talk to my neighbors as I see them.
Oh, the places you’ll go…
I put on comfortable work out clothes, lace up my sneakers, turn on my fitness tracker and then music on my phone which I listen to through my blue tooth head set and head out the door at least twice per week. Sometimes three times. Always on my non weight training days as walking is the best restorative exercise you can do in between lifting heavy iron. Your heart rate comes up, your blood gets richer in oxygen and this promotes healing as it courses through your body. And the added benefit of walking besides the fact it is easier on your legs and hips, is you do not miss the beauty of the outdoors as you do when running.
I really enjoy walking up through the Leavenworth VA grounds as occasionally I will stop and speak with fellow veterans who may be patients outside taking in a little fresh air. Being as so many of my Brother and Sisters in Arms can no longer be physically active, I owe it to them as a retired veteran and NCO to be active myself because I am still able. No matter that I am back to the civilian world, I am still a Staff Sergeant at heart, and my life needs to reflect that.
On today’s walk, I met a modern day John the Baptist. He goes by Brother Raven and he is on a mission to bring lost souls to Jesus. He was a really cool dude.
I was walking along on my way to the VA grounds when I heard a car pulling up with Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band cranking pretty load. The car stopped and Raven turned down the music, got out and introduced himself to me. He was quite the interesting man and I look forward to chatting again sometime, maybe over a cup of coffee. Raven is a ministry unto his own, and damn but I could not help but to like the man.
Once on the VA grounds, there were no vets outside today so I continued my walk to the south side past the 100 year old buildings which are being repaired and modernized for use. There is a fish pond on the south side which I usually circle a few times before heading towards the east entrance. It’s always pretty cool walking around the pond, seeing turtles sunning themselves on logs just above the water’s surface. They usually dive right in when I get about even with them. One will dive off then the next and the next . I have seen as many as 4 turtles sunning themselves on the same log. When ever I see anyone fishing there, I will usually stop and chat briefly. I have seen a lot of guys fishing this pond, but have never seen anyone catch anything out of it. But, really the point is as much about enjoying being on the waters edge as much as it is about catching fish anyhow,
Moving on from the VA grounds and walking down Leavenworth’s main drag, I could hear the rumble of a monster V8 motor coming up from behind. Damn this car sounded good, and it looked as good as it sounded as it passed. Once I had walked about another mile I came up the car and owner at one of our auto parts store. I had to stop and talk for a bit about this street rod. Hot Rodder’s sometimes like to over rate the power their cars are making, but the way this one was set up and sounded, I am not so sure the owner was exaggerating too much. He is running a 526 cubic inch motor if I remember correctly that is making 900 horse power without nitros and about 1400 with. While I can not know for sure about his claims, I could see by his racing tires tires that he can certainly light them fatties up.
Oh, the places you’ll go…
Leaving there I stopped and talked to a young man who was rebuilding the front porch on his 137 year old home that his grand father had left him. We chatted for a bit as he explained the work that is going into this beautiful old home. I love seeing the old homes in our river town being fixed up as there are too many which have fallen to disrepair.
Oh, the places you’ll go…
Topping the last hill before getting to my house there was an old man walking his dog. I said hello and commented what a beautiful day it was to be out getting exercise and he agreed. Seeing my hat with Veteran and the US Flag on it, the gentleman asked me if I knew who lived in the house on the corner. I told him that I had lived on the hill for almost 19 years but did not know this family where he pointed. He then proceeded to tell me we had a Medal of Honor recipient in our neighborhood who happened to be the first Awardee from the Vietnam War. Colonel Roger Donlon. I had no idea that a true hero lived on my neighborhood.
From Wikipedia; In May 1964, Donlon’s team was sent to Vietnam where they established an outpost atNam Dong, about 15 miles (24 km) from the border with Laos. Early in the morning of July 6, 1964, the base was attacked by a large force of Vietcong. Under Captain Donlon’s leadership, the two-battalion attack was repelled. Donlon received the Medal of Honor for his actions. Donlon later retired at the rank of colonel.
Oh, the places you’ll go…
Friends, we can go gang busters at life, but at times we just need to throttle back as we said in the military. Throttle back and take in the wonders around you. When you open your eyes and talk to others, you may well be surprised at what you will learn.
Get your doctors approval before beginning any exercise regimen. Even if you can not lift weights or run, get out and walk if you are able. I have found that a good long distance brisk walk is just as good physically as a good run, and it will refocus and center the mind in the process.
5 Comments Add yours
This is beautiful. It makes me feel like I’m there. You are so right, sometimes we just need to slow down and look around. I love this.
I agree, this is beautifully written and so true. I see every day people just in a hurry, to rude, road rage and just downright mean. Life is too short. More people need to be like you wrote. Oh the places you will go and see if you just slow down and keep life simple. I love the slogan easy does it but do it. I personally need to stay in the moment and keep my life simple, relax and breath. I just want to also say thank you David for your service to our country and for your dedication to helping us on our journeys. 💗💪🇱🇷
Life is short, we might as well enjoy it as best we can. Thank you Joanna for the gracious comment, we are always grateful for your support.
I loved this piece so much. The way you described visiting with the people who you encountered reminds me of how my grandfather approached life. He always stopped to visit and ask questions. This is part of what it takes to heal our souls and stay grounded. Thank you for putting that silly lump in my throat that I always get when something touches my heart.
Laura, that was the most touching comment I have had so far. Thank you.