Amazing Joe

He’s about my age, in one of those speedster wheelchairs with an evident upper body strength that tattles how long it’s been this way for him. I watched as he doggedly transfered himself from chair to machine, and worked his legs on the stairs, yes, even my favorite WAVE machine. He didn’t stay long on either of them - but boy was he was quite something to observe. I watched him gently desposit himself back into his chair - and head in my direction where I was doing my bike thing, I smiled.

I always do that you know? Look strange people straight in the eyes and smile. Anyhow, Joe took it as an invitation to come chat with me while I panted and sweat on a bike that I could have, at one time, rode into the ground. I was embarassed, a little, by what meager amount of work I was doing compared to all he’d just done.

‘You’ve been working pretty hard!’, I say while he parks his chair close enough to not obstruct passage.

‘Yeah,I am but I don’t see why’, he says with the speech pattern of someone who’d at one time suffered some brain damage. It was twelve years ago - an accident he’s reluctant to talk about, but free enough to share that it took him 4 years to learn to walk with the aid of a walker. If he was discouraged, it didn’t show on his face. Just in case, ‘I’ offer encouragement, yeah? Because long ago, it appears, I made that my job.

‘To get out of that thing, maybe?’

‘Nah. I can use my walker if I want. And I know I’m lookin’ good. I’m tone and strong.’

‘To feel better?’

‘Nope. I feel pretty great, too.’

‘So why don’t you just quit, then?!’ It was a challenge.

He smiled at me, introduced himself as Joe, and I give him back my name. “MJ, that was exactly the right question”, he said as he rolled off towards the free weights.

I had occasion, a few times later, as I circled the track, to see him doggedly working those legs. His shirt was soaked with the effort. What spirit and dedication.

How was my question the perfect question?! Maybe this is just some full-of-crap kinda guy. I prefer to think that maybe, as I continued to begrudge my return to square one, Joe is another one of mes of the world, out to encourage. OMG!! Maybe he was asking me?! Maybe my facial expression changed every time I reached down to check my heart rate, and showed my impatience.

Look - I know it could have meant absolutely nothing - but since the question was still floating through my brain, indicating that there had to be something in there for me to find…

So…if where I’m at with this gym thing bugs me, if I’m so embarassed at myself, why don’t I just quit?!


Because it feels SO DAMN GOOD to be moving again, no matter the speed. Because I need this in order to get better. Because…I’m aware that I need to learn even more about patience and how to pace myself.

But bottome line? I do it because…as it probably is for Joe - IT IS FOR ME.

Thank you for sharing this story …sometimes seeing others that have issues as bad or far worse than our own gives us the willpower to push forward .