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Looking out my Backdoor: The things I do and don't

 

Last updated 6/3/2021 at 10:05am



A couple thousand years ago, somebody famous, broadly paraphrased, said, we do things we know aren’t good for us (or for others) and don’t do the things we know to be good.

Well, what can I say? The shoe fits. Oh, I can always say more. Not only do I do what’s not good for me, but I lie to myself and convince myself that it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve worked hard at catching myself and changing my mind before rip-roaring into action. About 40 years of hard work. And it is hard work. No floating about on a pink cloud for me. Dang it. But I still am quite capable of stabbing myself in the foot, so to speak, and convincing myself it doesn’t really hurt as I bleed out on the floor.

For example, take physical therapy. I mean, take it. You can have it.

Despite my disparaging attitude, I’m a master student of PT. I’ve had six major surgeries on my legs, the resulting damage from a car crash when I was a mere young’un. After each surgery, I underwent the tortures of physical therapy with master craftsmen. These men were good.

I was bad. Once I got to where I could function relatively well and they released me out into the wide world, I asked each of them, “How long should I keep up the exercises?” Each time I asked, I hoped for a different answer. Each time, the reply was the same, “For the rest of your life.” Each time, as soon as the therapist released me from servitude, I quit the routines.

Until this last time. I reasoned that this surgery gave me a new life and I’d best take care of myself. So after a few weeks of therapy when the current plague ramped up, I released the therapist but kept up the routines, even increasing the repetitions of each exercise. Atta Girl!

Until one day, after more than a year into my routine, I quit, without conscious thought. Truly, I never made a decision to quit. I’m not sure when this happened, maybe January, February. The routine wasn’t hard. It didn’t even take that much of my time, certainly not too much time in a COVID world in which I struggle to fill my days with tasks meaningful to myself.

Here’s where the lies come in, right? I still feel good, I tell myself. I don’t miss the routine, boring, or at least, mindless. Weeks passed. I seldom thought about my old morning pattern. When I did, I continued to say to myself, lying like a rug, I feel good. See, it doesn’t make any difference. I’m OK. I’m fine.

I have no explanation for what happened recently. One morning I was lying in bed, my new morning routine, listening to the birdsong, greeting the morning, accompanied by the shrill cacophony of the cicadas. And just like that, for no discernable reason, I began to do the leg lifts. Did a couple sets, in fact. I had given this no conscious thought; didn’t think about it at all. Just started in on my physical therapy routine, greatly surprising myself. Humph, I said to myself. Wonder what that was all about?

Next morning, I did the same, repetition without thought. Now, I may lie to myself but I won’t lie to you. I haven’t continued with the entire-whole-every-single-exercise-physical-therapy routine. Just the leg lifts, which are the hardest and what I dreaded the most. Oh, and one other thing I do that Miguel said is good for blood circulation which I had never quit. That’s it. Two out of a half-dozen simple exercises.

And so it goes. Maybe it’s the new me. I’ve only racked up a few mornings so far. But, I have to confess, I feel good. I feel better. And this time, I don’t tell big porkies to myself.

——

Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]

 
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