Originally posted to my blog June 17, 2011
My wife and I are very busy at this time of the year, and it seems we are always working or going to appointments. We work together and are pretty much together 24 hours a day. Yet, one day a week we try to have a date night. Just the two of us with each other, alone, no work or appointments or anything but each other.
Our date nights are not elaborate dinners or plays or nights out on the town. They are just simple pleasures together like a walk on the beach or a walk in the park. Tonight we drove into the city and took a walk in Central Park in an area we have never been to before, the Castle.
While we were slowly walking through the park, I was having a difficult time breathing, plus I have a migraine for the past two days. The slightest of inclines were proving to be challenging, requiring me to stop and take “catch my breath” breaks, and the fact I did not bring my portable oxygen along was not helping matters either.
When we got to the Castle, I was faced with a staircase that in an instant I knew was going to have me out of breath. I stopped and took a minute to gain my strength, and my sweet wife told me I didn’t have to if it was too difficult, as she knew I was having a difficult time.
In that moment I looked at that challenging staircase, one that I would have skipped up, missing every other step just a couple of years ago, and for a moment I felt a flood of frustration, defeat, and anger. I hated how I felt, to look at that staircase that I could have ascended easily not too long ago, and dread the feeling of breathlessness, the pounding of my heart in my chest, the feeling of not enough oxygen getting to my brain, the dizziness, the light headed feeling, all that awaited me at the top of the staircase.
And then I had my “aha moment”. I realized that yes I would have difficulty going up the stairs, but I did not have to do it all in one shot. Rather than turn away from the challenge, I realized that I can continue to face all the physical challenges that were not challenges before. I had to stop looking at them with the same eyes of the physically fit man I was a couple of years ago. I had to look at them now with the eyes of a man with some physical challenges but with the same goal.
Instead of turning away, I accepted the challenge of the staircase but at the new me, at the pace that I could now attain to get to the top. I didn’t need to, nor could I bound up those stairs like I did before, but I still could go up them, albeit a little slower.
I climbed the stairs, stopping to take a break here and there, and I made it up to a beautiful view of the Turtle pond I had never seen before. In one simple action I have finally accepted that I am not the man I was and I will never be that man again. But I can still do most of the things I did before, but now at a new pace. It has taken me almost four years to finally accept that I am no longer the man I was. And that’s okay. I am still me, but in a slightly slower model, and I still love it.