A hill like that, believe me, is no simple
task for someone using only their arms to propel themselves
In just a few
seconds, I caught up with him. "Quite the hill, isn't
it?" I asked. "Yes, it is," he
replied. I stopped and introduced myself, and he set the
brakes on his chair and stopped for a chat.
It turned out
that he had been paralyzed in a logging accident, and that he
comes to that hill on purpose, three or four times a week, to do
the hill three times to keep himself strong. He doesn't
want to be a burden on anyone, and he doesn't want to use his
paralysis as an excuse for not being able to do things that he
feels he should be able to do, paralyzed or not.
He isn't bitter
about his physical condition, but quite realistic about
it. He knows what he can and can't do, and he knows that
there are some things that he'll be able to do better if he
works at them. That's why he was at the hill--he knows
that building his arm strength is important not just for moving
around in his wheelchair, but also for doing other things around
his home without losing his strength.
One of the
things that seems to pain him the most is the way that people
who aren't paralyzed don't seem to appreciate the gift of their
bodies, the way that so many people abuse their bodies by not
using them, not keeping them in the kind of shape that will keep
them functioning properly. He knows what he's lost, and it
makes him sad to see people who haven't lost their ability to
move around not appreciate it at all.
I'd love to
share his name, but I didn't ask permission to do so. One
thing I do know is that I'll be in touch with him again, as it
truly is inspiring to be around someone who has lost so much,
but who looks at his glass as more than half full. He's a
great balance for all the people who have so much that they
don't appreciate, and who always see their glasses as far less
than half full.
I hope that if
I ever have to deal with a disability of the sort that he's
dealing with, that I'm able to do so with even half the spirit
and energy that he devotes to keeping himself fit and
happy. If such a thing ever did happen to me, I'd like to
think that I'd be right there with him, racing him up that hill
in my own wheelchair.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*An 8% grade
gains or loses eight feet for every hundred feet of distance
covered; a 9% grade gains nine feet, etc.