Having a serious health condition brings up a whole bunch of challenges, both emotionally and physically. The experience itself teaches you to become humble and existentially minded. I’ve always been in tune with what I believe and what my core values are. It doesn’t completely drown out the questions and anger but certainly masks them enough to be a manageable level. Part of the healing process is natural but the other part is something that you have to work towards to be able to manage personal satisfaction and find purpose.
It’s no secret that many individuals find personal satisfaction and various health benefits through exercise. Science will back that up if your a numbers fanatic unlike me. I’ve neglected physical activity for so long because I wasn’t sure what I could do. At Derby Academy, I really loved to play rugby. At Hingham High School, I really loved to row. My last competitive sporting event was the 2007 Textile River Regatta on September 30th, 2007. Less than a week later, my life would change forever. It was hard being told that I could no longer partake in contact sports, because that is all I knew and enjoyed. For the last 9 years I’ve struggled to find a way to remain active. Right after I got sick, I was able to enter a guided exercise program for several months. After that ended, I had trouble sticking to any routine of exercising. I always heard about exercise being a preventative measure. The television and internet are flooded with studies about how exercising can prevent heart disease. My mindset was at a point where I thought exercise wouldn’t do anything for me since my life-changing heart event already happened and there didn’t seem like there was anything to prevent.
Finally, a tipping point came when I was sitting in my father’s favorite chair. I came to the realization that I can increase walking. As a runner himself in his teenage and adult years, I could feel him channeling his energy through me, telling me to get up on my feet and do something to move forward. It’s no coincidence that I ended up heading to Bare Cove Park, the very spot where I used to run Cross Country in grade school at Derby Academy for several years and where my Dad used to come watch my races. Walking is something that I can do at my own pace. It’s something that always makes me feel like i’m gaining ground and that I’m not stuck in one place. Walking makes me feel free and empowered.
As Jackson Browne once so eloquently said in his song I Am A Patriot, “I want to run like the lions released from the cages, released from the rages burning in my heart tonight.”