Go, and be thankful
"I really don't want to be here,"
a guy told me recently during one of my workouts.
I thought about him today, on my sixth consecutive
day away from the gym.
Unlike yesterday, I brought my gym bag to
work with me today, hopeful that the leg I
injured over the weekend had healed to the
point where a trip to the gym would help more
than it hindered. Instead, common sense prevailed
- it's been doing that more as I age - and
I decided to rest the leg another day, so
I don't prolong my recovery.
Ironically, I injured my leg by falling on
my way into church on Saturday night. That
one stung, but not nearly as bad as the second
fall. There is almost always a second - and
sometimes even third - fall, as my already
weak legs wobble a little more. Fear of the
third fall has me walking like a clumsy solider
through a minefield, and it's kept me out
of the gym and church.
The gym and church are two places we often
grudgingly go or, worse yet, make excuses
not to go. I know - I've been there. Now,
I want to go and can't. God loves irony.
Most of us are going to experience that irony
at one time or another. We'll long to reconnect
with someone we chased out of our life years
ago. We'll wish to recapture moments that
passed us as we distracted ourselves with
trivial concerns. We'll ache for abilities
and opportunities that age has taken from
Devon Walker knows this.
Former Tulane football player Devon Walker's
life suddenly changed in the second game of
the 2012 season. An undersized walk-on, he
had worked his way into a starting position
on the team, and was even a team captain.
2012 was his senior season, and he was eager
to take his game to the next level. Unfortunately,
he suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury
in that game, and has been paralyzed from
the neck down since.
Walker was recently awarded the Disney Spirit
Award, given to college football's most inspirational
figure. He was a very worthy recipient, because
he hasn't let his circumstances get him down.
After a year in grueling rehab, he resumed
classes in pursuit of a degree in cell and
molecular biology, with designs on attending
medical school. Pursuing such a demanding
academic program while competing on an athletic
team - as a walk-on no less - is impressive
enough. That he continues undeterred after
such a devastating injury is simply amazing.
While some of his able-bodied classmates
grudgingly drag themselves out of bed to attend
class, wishing they were elsewhere, Devon
struggles through his morning routine for
different reasons. Because of his near total
paralysis, it takes him more than two hours
just to get out of bed and dressed. He needs
help to do almost anything physical, even
eating and brushing his teeth, yet he attends
class. As much as possible, he attends all
the practices and activities of the football
I don't know Devon Walker, but I know that
he is human, which means that he is sometimes
prone to weakness, like all of us. It's safe
to say that - before his injury - he probably
approached some of the more difficult practices
in Louisiana's heat with dread, and he was
probably tempted to skip class. Now, ironically,
with multiple excuses to do both, he doesn't.
My leg is healing, and I'll be back in the
gym and in a pew soon. This brief time-out
only strengthened my resolve. . Is there anything
in your life that you complain about, but
would truly miss if it were taken from you?
-- Mitch Arnold