Courage to Begin

Passing Shots

Courage To Begin

By Mary Lynn Garger, Tennis Professional

He was making his way very slowly. One foot in front of the other with the assistance of a red and black walker. Old age having taken its toll, his body was permanently bent at the waist, resembling the shape of an inverted L. Seemingly, all he could see was the concrete beneath him and yet there he was, seizing the beautiful day one small step at a time. Watching him was like hearing the little blue engine chug along the tracks, all the way saying “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As I sat in my car waiting for this man to cross the parking lot entrance, my mind was flooded with so many thoughts. I wondered what goes through his mind as he gets out of bed each morning and readies for the day. I pondered what others might notice as they caught sight of this man. I questioned whether or not people did notice. I thought about how I would be if I was unable to stand upright and could only see the ground beneath me. I marveled at the determination he must have in order to organize himself for a walk outdoors. I contemplated how refreshing it would be if, in our society, we could be less caught up in appearances and more willing to be authentic on regular basis. I thought about how hard it is to slow down when the world around us keeps moving so fast and how this man has a lifetime of wisdom within him and how our culture is not as good as others at respecting, dignifying and caring for the elderly. I reflected upon walkers…how excited we are for our toddlers to use them to aid in their walking and yet how sad we can become when our elderly loved ones require the same assistance.

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”

–  Naeem Callaway

Truly, so many thoughts were initiated by this seemingly innocent event. For all of us who want to start something new and don’t know how to begin, may I humbly suggest that we, too, put one foot in front of the other and take the first step like the man in this story. Whether we feel too embarrassed about how we will appear, too worried about how we will compare, too concerned about whether or not we will fit in, too scared about being out of our comfort zone, or too apprehensive about the shape we are in, let’s remember the bent-over elderly man and keep our eyes on the goal. Let’s summon up the courage to take the first step, and if we get derailed, begin again.

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