This weekend my husband and I had a grand time doing a lot of stuff we didn’t do while I was having issues with my knee. Last year a bit before this time, we’d decided we were going to go to the Denver Aquarium. I LOVE looking at fish, and there are so many different species of fish and water animals out there. The Denver Aquarium has a lot of the ‘normal’ ones you think of, as well as a bunch of ‘wierd’ ones. Or ‘weird’ for this North American (some of the sea life from the Australia area were really interesting).
But it got me thinking. We put this off for a long time. Over a year. Because of my knee. Now, the first time we were going to do it was when we were coming back from an SCA event in Denver, but my knee had gone out and I didn’t think I could walk very far. That was a good call because it took us two and a half hours to look at all the exhibits at the aquarium. The second time, however, was after a Science Fiction Convention (called Mile Hi Con) that’s held yearly in Denver. We’d gone to the Con, and I was using a wheelchair all weekend.
So, why didn’t we go after the convention? I had the wheelchair, so it’s not like I couldn’t have gotten around. For no other reason than it was inconvenient and I didn’t want to be wheeling myself in a public setting. SciFi Cons, for the most part, are insular and accepting. Most of us geeks have been ridiculed and made fun of (many times repeatedly), so we tend to be more accepting of other ‘marginal’ populations out there. So, wheeling around the Con wasn’t going out in public. Going to the Aquarium was.
And yes, I didn’t do something because of what I perceived would be the attitudes of the people around me. You know, that I was using the wheelchair because I was fat.
I recently read a blog from a friend who’s going through some tough times with his health. Basically, in the last two years, he’s had a couple of surgeries for massively clogged arteries. He’s had stints put in, has changed his eating habits, and has kept up the exercising he’d already been doing (he was playing racquetball a couple times a week with work teams and he also rides his bike to and from work every day — close to ten miles each way). The one thing that hasn’t changed for the better in his life is his stress levels. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be able to change any time soon.
Because of all this, his mortality has really struck home. He was talking about how he wants to do all these things, and how he might not be able to do them, because of his health conditions.
My question to him, as well as myself was, “What are you waiting for?”
I know that there are legitimate reasons to not do things one might want to do. There are challenges that can make doing something extremely difficult if not almost impossible, such as not being able to go to the Aquarium the first time we wanted to last year. With my knee hurting as bad as it was, there was no way I’d have been able to walk and stand over two hours through all the exhibits.
However, I also know a woman who is a paraplegic, and who races for a living. Her race car (as well as her every day vehicle) has been modified so all of the controls are on the steering wheel. My neighbor across the street is also a paraplegic, who also has a van modified so he can drive himself wherever he wants to go.
My point here (and I do have one) is that there are so many reasons we can use to not do the things we want to do. “I can’t go dancing because…” “I can’t go to the aquarium because…” “I can’t do *whatever* because…”
A former college roommate used to tell me “can’t never could” whenever I’d use an excuse for not doing something. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I’ve come to learn she was right. Every time I say I can’t, I don’t do whatever it is. It may well be impossible for me to do something, but most times, I “can’t” only because I’m afraid, or it’s inconvenient, or something else.
As long as I keep making excuses to myself, life passes me by. I’m tired of life passing me by. I’m tired of not going dancing because I don’t want to hear what comments people may say about me, my shape, my lack of dancing skills. I’m tired of not going swimming because the local high school girls swimming team meets at the Y where I’m swimming, because I’m afraid of what they might say to me (true story, I allowed my fears of what may happen to keep me from doing something I loved for months back in 1999).
I’ve recently made myself a bracelet that I’m wearing everywhere now. The bracelet has three charms, one which reads, “Live Life”. It’s just my way of reminding myself, “What are you waiting for?”
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