Measuring up

I’m a competitive person. I like to win. I don’t like to fail, so I rarely do things I’m not good at. Cop out? Maybe. But it’s my reality.

I have never been a physically fit kind of person. Until Jan. 5, I could count on both hands the number of walks I’d taken for exercise – in my whole life. I like to walk, but I like to walk on fairly flat terrain and in a comfortable bug-free environment. I have no stamina for hills or steps. I get shin splints. I breathe hard. But I’m 50 now, so I decided to stop making excuses.

I bought a treadmill. Since Jan. 5, I’ve walked roughly 87 miles. I’m up to about 10 miles a week. I walk nearly every day. I try to walk a little faster, a little longer and with a bit more elevation each day. I like it. I mean, I really like it.

So why am I hesitant to talk about it? One is always more than zero, so every mile I walk is more than I walked last year or the year before. Folks ask me if I’m going to run. No. I’m not going to run. I hate running. I suck at running. I excel at walking very fast. Walking very fast makes me feel good. Running makes me feel like shit. But in the back of my mind, “everyone” is judging me for walking a measly 10 miles a week.

Does everyone feel like this? Consumerism is an easy way to measure success. Obviously, the person with the most stuff, wins the prize. Work is another way to measure. The person who works most, wins. The biggest pumpkin wins at the fair. We pick beauty queens and the best of dog breeds. But what I do on the treadmill is mine. It’s just for me. My opinion is the only one that counts.

Mr. Dennis DeYoung’s words echo in my head:
“But don’t be fooled by the radio
The TV or the magazines
They show you photographs of how your life should be
But they’re just someone else’s fantasy
So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because you never win the game
Just remember that it’s a Grand illusion
And deep inside we’re all the same.”

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