00066: Walking Bodies

Running Shoes

I started running while attending college. Mainly because the first time I went to the college’s gym, I found myself very intimated by the other college guys who seemed to have muscular bodies, making them look like Adonis. A nerd, like me, skinny and with no muscles at all, felt completely out of place. Add to that sentiment the fact that I was in the closet, and whether I liked it or not, being surrounded by so many college guys, sweating and grunting while they lifted weights, made me scared. I was afraid I would find myself staring at them, or worse, they would find me staring at them. The combination of these two things gave me a lot of anxiety. I was a sophomore then.

One day, I casually mentioned to someone that I felt like “working out” but hated to use the gym. That someone recommended running. And so, during the next few days, I started to watch others run while mentally and emotionally preparing to take a chance at such individualistic sport. Once I started running, the practice continued into graduate school and into my life after grad school.

I was doing fine with the running, enjoying the time within myself, in my own thoughts, and always pushing to run longer and faster. Most importantly because I never allow running become a “competition.” I never participated in any type of competitive running events, because to me, running wasn’t about becoming the best among the rest but rather a life style that gave me energy and allow me to be physically healthy.

By the time I stopped running, I was running 10 miles per day and 13 miles on a Saturdays. I’ve never run on Sundays. I was very happy with such achievement and I predicted I was going to continue doing that forever. What I didn’t predict was twisting an ankle, rolling down a hill, damaging my right knee, and developing plantar fasciitis. Those four things put a stop to my running for a long time. And by the time I could run again, it wasn’t the same. I tried to motivate myself, pushing to reach my old goal once again. As a result I ended up having knee surgery. At last, the running stopped.

Today I just walk, averaging about 3 miles per day, four to five on Saturdays. I don’t walk on Sundays. I can’t do more than that because the knee pain returns, and now, even my feet hurt. So, I take it easy. During my walks, I see other people, around my age, some younger, some older, also walking. We never talk to each other but we do acknowledge the fact that we are passing each other. We wave at each other, sometimes we say “good morning,” other times we don’t even do that. We simply pass each other in silence, walking bodies with the simple purpose to finish our walks.

I often wonder who these walking bodies are. What their names are. Where they live. Often I wonder if they walk because like me, once they were able to run but now walking is their only option. I wonder if they walk because they like walking or because they must walk due to medical issues, or both. Take for example Tom, (not his really name, obviously). He’s been walking for at least two years. The first time I spotted him, he had a “rounded body,” yet he walked in a brisk way. Today, he’s the opposite, skinner than when I first saw him; he also walks much slower and carries a cane with him. He uses the cane to walk up the street slops. I know. I’ve seen him doing that.

Then there is “Theresa” (again, not her real name, obviously.) She walks fast and she always seems to be murmuring. “She talks to herself,” I said to myself a while back. But then, one day I noticed she carries a rosary, so I’ve deducted she prays to her Catholic Gods while walking.

There is also Augustus, a tall and lean man I pretty much dislike because he doesn’t walk, he runs, and he runs with his dog. Every day he rushes by me with such a smug attitude. Okay, he doesn’t have an attitude; I’m just projecting my jealousy at the fact that he can run and I can’t. And of course there are more walking bodies but enough.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking and in front of me was a lady with a dog. I’ve never seen her before. She was about 15 feet in front of me, and while crossing the street, a car hit her dog and her. It happened so fast. Luckily, there were other walking bodies and in seconds we were all trying to help. Even more fortunate was the fact that neither the dog nor the woman were seriously hurt. In fact, the dog simply run from the scene, completely shocked. I, being a dog person, looked for the dog all around my neighborhood; I didn’t find him. By the time I returned to the accident scene, the woman, and everyone else was gone.

Two days later I saw a man walking the dog that have been in the accident, so I approached him and asked if that was indeed the dog that was in the accident. He said yes. The dog was fine and so was his wife. I petted the dog a few times and I continued with my walk, happily knowing the dog had been found and it was fine, just a little traumatized but walking nonetheless.

Four days later I saw the dog again, this time the woman was walking him. I stopped to talk to her and caress the dog once again. I learned the dog has been adopted and will be gone from the neighborhood “by Sunday.” Apparently both the man and the woman were just “foster parents,” while waiting for the dog to be adopted. I don’t know why but the news made me sad.

The point of these story is that, after more than four years of morning walks, I have never had direct interaction with the other walking bodies I’ve encountered every day, except until the day of the accident. That was the only time I directly intermingled with the other walking bodies that came to aid during the accident. And even then we never introduced ourselves and after that, we went back to saying, “good morning” or simply waving at each other as we pass by during our walks.

The most interesting part of this story is that the first day I saw the dog being walk by the man, I asked for the dog’s name but never for the human’s name. When I saw the dog the second time, this time with the woman, I talked to the woman and say I high to the dog while petting him. Yet, I never asked for the woman’s name.

Today is Sunday and I will no longer be able to see the man or the woman taking the dog on a walk. I may be able to see both of them walking, but not the dog. It’s strange, but such realization makes me a little sad. Yet life goes on. Tomorrow I will start yet another week of walking, and like before I will encounter and pass by many walking bodies once again, but never that dog. It is sad indeed.

By the way, the dog’s name is Roger.


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