When I was at the beach last week, I met a very interesting man. It was 11am on a Wednesday and most people were at work. The beach and outdoor jungle gym was quiet with the exception of retirees and beach bums (myself included). I was going for my daily workout. As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see a nicely tanned, and extremely fit man. From a distance, I couldn’t tell how old he was or anything else about him except that he had a great physique and an awkward walk.
I quickly gathered my things and began my workout, but couldn’t keep my eyes off this man. Was he normal or was he physically challenged? He looked like he could be on the cover of Men’s Fitness but he kept stumbling when he walked. We finally crossed paths during a routine walk-around. We made eye contact and he suggested that I try his parallel rings hanging from the tree behind us. So I took the opportunity to compliment him on his amazing physique and we started chatting more about diet and exercise. He eventually revealed that he is in his late 40’s and has been suffering from Parkinson’s for the past decade – hence the awkward walk and stuttered speech. In order to keep himself from going into darkness and depression, he has been coming to the outdoor gym every single day. Rain or shine, he was there. Working on his co-ordination and keeping himself in shape was his primary goal.
We chatted for a long while and had forgotten to workout. Since then, we have been friends. I would text him every few days to align our workout schedules. I would also add words of encouragement in my texts. Instead, I think he is the one that motivates me.
Everyone has a unique story. Everyone has challenges. While some succumb to their situation, others rise above it. If we take a moment to wake up to the world, there are many lessons to be learned.