Inspiration can come from anywhere. And most always when you least expect it. It can come from a rainbow after a rain shower or from a leaf falling gently upon a fall forest floor. It can come from a place you visit, an event you attend, or something you see or read about in a newspaper. For me, it came from a person I met briefly yesterday, while taking a walk around Professor’s Lake.
I had been at the lab for bloodwork. After two months of feeling like I’d been run over by a train every morning, and after trying to work out the pain and stiffness with exercise to no avail, I decided that it was time to seek medical attention, and, as you all know, the first step in resolving any malaise is the dreaded needle in the arm to withdraw blood. (I swear the gauge of the needle gets bigger every time.)
When I came out of the lab, the clouds had dissipated somewhat and the sun was shining. I got into the car and drove to Tim Horton’s. I was going to go back home, but decided that a walk would do me some good, so I drove to Professor’s Lake.
I parked in the parking lot of the recreation center, and started walking west. I wasn’t walking for more than a minute when I see an elderly gentleman trekking my way. He was using a walking stick; he had a slight limp. He wore a fur hat and mittens and a thick bomber jacket, and carried a pack on his back. The sight of him immediately warmed my heart, like when I see a child reading a book; it’s just one of those things.
He smiled and stopped. I followed suit.
“How ya doin’? I say.
“Pretty good,” he replies.
We speak of the weather, the frozen lake, and the cold wind. He says that I should’ve worn mittens and I tell him that I hadn’t planned on coming for a walk. He asks if I live in the area and I tell him where I drove from. He says, “Maybe you’ll win another car.” I look down at my cup, it’s Roll up the Rim to Win time at Tim’s. We laugh, say a few more words, and then part ways.
Suddenly, my pain leaves my body. My spine elongates, my shoulders drop, and I start to take longer strides. I’m strutting. The wind is in my face, but it’s not too cold, and my hands are warmed by my hot coffee. Light conversation with that man has inspired me to stop feeling so damn bad about my situation and to change my perspective. I mean, here he is using a walking stick and still smiling, still up for a challenge. And for two months I have been letting muscle stiffness get the better of me. (Well, the CBC the doctor ordered might tell that it’s something more, but still.)
I continue on and I am feeling better. The air I’m breathing feels fresher and I am more appreciative of nature. I have made the first turn around the lake and am now heading east. Up ahead there is a man taking photos. My curiosity is satisfied when I see what he is taking photos of. The water at the east end of the lake hasn’t frozen over and there is a mix of ducks, geese, and gulls congregating at the edge of the ice. It’s a great sight. He’s bound to get some good shots. I pass a few more souls, smile and say hello. The gesture is returned. I didn’t win anything from my rim. I make the turn around the lake and am heading west again to the parking lot. The wind has picked up.
When I see the elderly man with the walking stick, I am happy. I walk toward him.
“Muh man.” I say.
We stop for a few minutes and have another chat. He asks if I’m from Newfoundland.
“How did you know?” I ask.
“Because you’re so friendly,” he replies, laughing.
Then he tells me about the time that he and his wife visited Newfoundland. So it goes that his wife wanted to go on a cruise for their 25th anniversary. He told her that if she could handle a ferry to Newfoundland then she could handle a cruise. So they both go on this trip and visit all of Atlantic Canada. On the way back, they decide that they would go on a cruise, but, unfortunately, when they got back to the city, the factory where he worked closed down and they never made it.
I ask him if he will ever go and he tells me that within the next five years, at his 50th anniversary, they plan to go, if they can save enough. He says he buys lottery tickets, hoping to win. We say a few more words and I wish him luck with his plans.
By the time I got back to the car I was chilled. I turned the ignition and set the heat to high. I just sat there thinking about my life and all the times I felt like giving up. And that man, who could barely walk, was still thinking about taking a cruise with his wife after all those years. I realize that the soreness and stiffness I had been feeling is small stuff and that what matters most is that I do not give up.
Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time.
I changed the gear to drive and went home, all the while thinking that if I had the money I would send him and his wife on a cruise.
P.S. I went back today and got some pictures.