This week, the warm weather sent Mom and I out into our neighborhood to try out her new wheelchair. On the second hill of the first day, mom was on one of her repeating loops in response to the sound of my labored breathing. In an effort to stop the buzz kill drowning out the birdsong, I innocently began an infomercial about Sergeant Marcia’s Boot camp. Her laughter, combined with the concentration needed to follow the monologue, eliminated the loop, AND I liked the concept.
The great thing is, pushing an adult in a wheelchair is an incredible workout. Even the slightest incline becomes a challenge, both on the up, because it requires so much power, and the down due to the increased effort required to ensure control. The chair alone is 40+ pounds, which is about the same weight as the single I will soon be car-topping to row on Lake Cochichuate. There were even times I was able to apply some of the more recent gains from Pilates, at least for a few minutes.
I figure that six weeks of wheelchair boot-camp is as effective as ‘Mommy and Me’ fitness groups at the mall performed with light weight agility. (No disrespect intended to dedicated new moms who are getting back in shape.) I’m just sayin’ technology seems to be on point in the whole ergonomically designed baby stroller, and self-propelled differently able athlete wheelchair markets, not so much with the wheelchair (many of which are transporters, if you get the drift) propelled by caregivers demographic.
Being out and about with her, is easier than taking a walk by myself during the day and wondering if she’s ok the whole time. She comes home a bit more animated, and less agitated. I come home feeling more like my competent athletic self. The tradeoff for having to hear the same comments repeated multiple times, comes in the form of memories.
On the third day, we were going down a bumpy section of road when I experienced a visceral memory of being pushed in a stroller by her, going aaaahhh ahhh ahh to make my voice sound funny on the same kind of rough surface. I wondered if she was remembering the same thing. I sent up a test balloon, “Hey mom, don’t throw you’re shoes out so I have to take you back over that part again to get them”. Sure enough, she laughed without hesitation, or need for translation.
Of course, there was one nice day, when she dug in her heels and wouldn’t buy in to the walk du jour. I firmly reminded myself it wasn’t personal, and went on to the day’s studies. Oh, and in case you are wondering what all this has to do with failure. I assure you there is plenty … or I wouldn’t have been so out of breath on those hills to begin with. This particular challenge is a work in progress, as I grapple to unearth the learning, growth, and insight that have occurred unobserved beneath the surface, during my most recent temporary and essential setbacks.
Next week I hope you will return for a conversation with MIT Head Football Coach Chad Martinovich, who will share his thoughts on the necessity of setbacks and failures on the road to success, in Resiliency and the Art of Failure – Part Three.