Weighty Matters

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Marching, Activism, and Feeling the Burn

on January 21, 2017

My day started with Tai Chi class. When we did a full set at the end of class, I felt so balanced and stable, even when balancing on my right knee. Over the last two years, that knee’s condition has worsened. It isn’t as strong and it is less stable, which really contributes to my decision to get it replaced in March. I can’t wait to get it done, complete my rehabilitation and move forward with greater strength and a lot less pain.

After class, I went to Key West with a couple of co-workers/friends to join the Woman’s March. Yes, even here in the laid back Florida Keys, we wanted to rally and have our voices heard.  I’m not going to get all political; that’s not the purpose of the blog. Plus, frankly, I’m tired of talking about it, or hearing about it, all of the time.

All I will say was that the rally was peaceful and uplifting. It was a true boost to the spirit. We walked up Duval Street, pretty  much Key West’s best known street, from on end to the other, carrying signs, waving at people, and occasionally chanting positive messages. There’s been an overload of negativity lately, so being part of this experience was simply an amazing antidote.

I was a little young to be truly active in the peace and anti-war rallies of the 60s. I remember marching and shouting against the Vietnam War in some little protest once in our home area but it was seriously a small affair.  Another time, when my friends and I were around 11 or 12 we picketed City Hall over a proposed ordinance to stop letting dogs go on the beach in the off season. We walked around with signs and dogs, including a small one in a wagon filled with sand.  My family’s dogs were at my grandparents, so I actually borrowed my next-door-neighbors’ dog. I’m not sure if we actually influenced the city government to not pass that ordinance, but I’m sure we entertained the City employees and the local police with our earnestness and signs. Someone called and told my parents. (We had not pre-informed our folks of our intentions.) Dad could barely keep a straight face when he asked me about it that night. Great memory!

I can tell you that civil marches and activism were easier on my body back then. Duval Street is about a mile and a quarter in length, plus we logged additional distance going from a parking lot to the starting point, then stood for an hour before the march began. Duval Street isn’t that wide and there were a lot of participants so we filled the street. (Hoping to get a credible estimate of the number of marchers. Edited to add: Event organizers say we were 3200 strong. That’s a big number for a relatively small town!) The pace was leisurely, but Woman’s Stroll just doesn’t have the same impact as March. Still, it’s a good indication of how bad my knee has gotten that the pace and distance really affected me. By the time we finished, I was feeling the burn as my knee throbbed and felt swollen. I was more than happy when my friends suggested we catch a cab back to the car rather than log another mile on our feet.

We went out for an early dinner after the event and then came home. As soon as I entered the house, I apologized to Nat because there was no way I was taking him out for a walk. He was happy to go out in the yard as long as I served him his dinner right after. After mixing up his bowl, I quickly swallowed two OTC pain relievers , grabbed an ice pack and sat on the couch with my leg elevated. It feels much better than it did a few hours ago, and the residual throbbing will pass.

After so many years of sedentary life pre-weight loss surgery, and then the last five years of becoming more fit and enjoying so many physical activities, I don’t like these reminders that I am hampered in any way. I think the thought of my knee getting worse and worse – to the point where I’d have to start giving up more activities, is what really pushed me over the edge to making the surgery decision. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I start to think, “No, I can’t do that.” Now and forever when something comes up that I want to participate in, I always want my answer to be, “Yes I can!”


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