The darkness in the pre-dawn hours along Coalfield Road is simultaneously comforting and foreboding. The occasional car coming from the opposite direction is on its way to the Y across the street from my townhouse. The Y must be giving away worms.
The 2 1/2 mile, out-and-back walk I take, 4-5 times a week, is lit by antique-looking street lamps along a generous sidewalk for most of the journey. I wave at a sporadic runner or cyclist, but otherwise the sojourn is mine and mine alone. Plenty of time for reflection or more importantly “no-thinking.” The Buddhists call it “no-mind.”
The deeper I get along the route, the more my overweight body hurts. The back stiffens and the ankles and knees ache. I stop at the turnaround point and re-tie my shoes. When I bend over, I can hear my vertebrae snap back into alignment and I stand upright and feel better. I walk because at this point in my life, I have to in order to get back on the bike and into life.
Friday morning, on my walk, my mind focused on planning for the weekend. I realized that it was Father’s Day. If you are a teacher in Central Virginia, Father’s Day is almost a high, holy day. Father’s Day means you made it through the school year and are finally on summer vacation. Oh yeah, and it means Dads are awesome.
I thought about all those “holy days” and realized this Friday will be the five year anniversary of my retirement from teaching. FIVE YEARS!! Where has the time gone?!!
The realization that it had been five years made me immediately melancholy. Partly because I missed teaching, but mostly because I felt like I had squandered most of those five years. I more or less took a sabbatical from life. I made attempts to come out of my hermitage and even wrote a blog along those lines but….
The bike accident I had 6 years ago, where I broke ribs and suffered a head injury, greatly changed my outlook on life. I taught one more year and retired. I decided life was too short to feel guilty about what I was putting our children through and I was REALLY, REALLY tired of talking. I know that sounds weird, but imagine a job where you are talking almost non-stop the whole time.
I fully realize the irony in that I quit teaching because I thought life was too short and now I sit here writing about throwing away five years of my life.
It was nice and cool this past Friday on my walk; so much so that I had to wear a hoodie. I was deep in thought; thinking about the past five years and making plans to change it all. I saw a car coming from the opposite direction and it started to veer in my direction on the sidewalk. It was weird because the headlights seemed to be moving independent of each other. It was then I realized it wasn’t car at all but my two friends and biking buddies Robert and Steven. They were both excited to see me out and moving around. They had both said how awesome it would be if I could start biking with them (I’m a few pounds away from feeling comfortable on a bike). Steven (who taught with me for 9 years) was excited that it was the last day of school for him AND he would be moving to a different school next year. We chatted a few minutes and slapped each other on the back and headed our separate ways.
Serendipity is a fickle mistress. I was in the midst of making a significant shift in my approach to life and God sent two “angels” to encourage me along the way.
On Thursday, Lynn and I bought some furniture and paintings and set up a writing nook in my study. The study is where I work and watch sports in the old recliner Lynn let me keep from our move a year ago. I’m now committed writing and finishing the book I started.
I’m committed to walk until I can bike. I’m committed to getting back in touch with friends and getting out more. I’m committed to living once again. No more lost years. No more excuses. It’s in writing.