Yeah, I Dont Do That Any More
Some of my greatest childhood memories are
of the experiences I had trudging through
the snow in the woods behind my childhood
home. If you saw me now, you would shake your
head and think that I was delusional
that I spent too much time in the sun, but
its true. My body has never been perfect,
but it was once a lot better.
As a kid, I rode my bicycle for miles, just
to prove I could. I snow skied, water skied
and golfed. I delivered newspapers on foot,
through all kinds of weather. I climbed trees,
rode horses and ran, although I never liked
running, even when I could do it.
The doctors told me that my future was grim.
That, as my body aged, it was going to be
difficult for me to be as active. That Ill
probably need crutches, a cane, even a wheelchair.
I shrugged my shoulders and went hunting in
the woods behind my house. They didnt
know what they were talking about.
That was a long time ago.
I went snow skiing as a senior in high school.
I took the ski lift all the way to the top
of Keystone Mountain in Colorados Summit
County, where a long easy run lay ahead of
me. In prior years, I had flown down that
run time and again, knowing where to hit my
marks to maximize my speed and excitement.
That day, however, I crashed in the first
100 yards, struggled to get up and crashed
again just a few yards farther. My dad trailed
behind, stopping just upslope to make sure
I was OK. I shook off the first crash as the
consequence of not skiing in the past three
years, but he and I knew. It was the first
crash of many, and, when I finally reached
the bottom of the mountain, I took off the
skis for the last time.
I experienced a similar reality about a year
later while hunting pheasants in a corn field.
Every downed stalk seemed to grab my legs,
and my feet found all the holes. It was the
last field I ever walked. When I swung a golf
club three years ago, I learned that golf
too was something that I could no longer do.
Most of us are fortunate enough to sail through
most of our lives with nearly all of our physical
and mental abilities. Sure, maybe we cant
run a five-minute mile any longer, but that
doesnt keep us from going on a run.
Because it we are able to do most everything
we want to do, we dont fully appreciate
everything we can do. Thats unfortunate.
When something or someone is taken from you,
your world narrows and your attention focuses
on only the most important things. Its
why family and friends gather at funerals,
and renew relationships. Its why amputees
run marathons and soldiers form life-long
friendships with each other. Theyve
felt loss and realize it can happen at any
In loss, there is life. Loss hurts. Its
supposed to hurt, but we recover, and we recover
stronger, because we learn that life goes
on, and though it might not be as easy as
we want it to be, its as beautiful as
we make it.
A few weeks ago, some longtime friends invited
Lynda and me to join them for dinner in Omahas
Old Market. The Old Market is an incredibly
vibrant and exciting place to have dinner
and socialize, but I typically avoid it, especially
on the weekends, because it invariably involves
an uncomfortable amount of walking for me.
That wasnt the case 20 years ago. With
those very friends, I went up and down the
streets and through crowded bars, never really
letting my handicap get in the way.
Thats not an option any more. Even
with Lynda dropping me off before parking
the car, I had to walk farther than I wanted
and then climb some stairs to get to the restaurant.
There wasnt going to be any bar hopping
for me that night or any other night for that
matter. Ive accepted that and choose
to focus on the things that I can do, like
having dinner with treasured friends from
With a healthy set of legs, the incredible
dinner would have been just part of a night
that would have involved stops at other clubs
and restaurants. I would have enjoyed that
night too, but I probably wouldnt have
appreciated just being there as much.
Too many of us assume that life will always
be easy, and that allows us to take simple
things for granted. Its easy to skip
that evening walk with your wife, but what
if you were to lose the opportunity tomorrow
or the next week or the next year or the next
decade? Will you look at the missed opportunity
Dont let something be taken from you
before you appreciate it.
-- Mitch Arnold