If you’ve been a regular at a local gym, especially the Y’s, Work Out Worlds, and Planet Fitness types of places, you’ve seen this, I’m sure…the silent dance of people moving from one machine and source of pain onto the next. It’s almost as repetitious and programmed as the rack of TV monitors overhead. It looks like this; you’ve got the young bucks in their hoodies looking clueless why they’re there, who wander aimlessly and may in fact be still asleep. In contrast, nearby an endless wall of mirrors, are the sweating power-lifting Hulk wannabes, who stare and chuckle now and then at the maze of boomers (me) strapped into rows of spinning cardio machines.
But at my gym, on certain days there is a man, a very old man, who arrives and works out in the mix of everyone else. He’s smooth, completely uninhibited and shuffles through the tough and pretty need-to-be-seen-types, who, to their credit stop, and clear a path for wherever this man’s headed– a one-man motorcade of time that everyone knows is coming our way.
And we talk, this man and me. I make a point of being somewhere where he is and say hello because I can, because I must, because most do not. I watch him strategize his mount to each machine as part of me quickens ready to offer help or catch which (thankfully) does not happen. And when we talk his words are few, his eyes light up and he makes my sixty-four years feel almost juvenile.
Today, between machines he says, “All that matters is getting two feet on the floor each morning and then you make sure that they move.”
Somewhere in the lift of his leg, or in his learning over and setting the dial on his machine, a span in which I’ve had time to fiddle with my iPod, scan CNN, or ramp up on my own machine, this beautiful old man has nestled himself in and he slowly starts to move.
That’s all there is, really, and all there needs to be.
His time, my time and our time, being present for what is,
to have people, motion, sound and purpose, feet moving in the morning
and feet moving through a day.
Our paths crossed again upon leaving. He, waiting for his ride, turns his head and says slowly,
“Let’s do this again tomorrow, God willing.”
“Indeed,” I said, “tomorrow… and God willing.”
As I drove away I thought; a workout, lesson and prayer. It doesn’t get much better.