It can sometimes be difficult to think about the things I used to do and who I used to be because the comparison of that person and who I am today brings to light the drastic difference between the two. But other times, it is satisfying to remember that my now broken body served me well for many years. It provided adventure and fun out in the big world.
I have never been a crazy risk taker, but I have done some things I view as adventurous. As a teenager, I took flying lessons. I loved it enough to get up at 4:30 in the morning so I could get ready for school, have an hour-long lesson and arrive at school on time. I soloed (flew by myself) three times. Circumstances prevented me from continuing lessons and getting my license, but I still remember the exhilarating feeling of being up in the sky flying that plane alone.
Newly married, I found myself in a foreign country with no way to communicate. I had one day to learn how to use public transportation and then maneuvered my way through a maze of busses, subway trains and on foot through a big German city all before learning the language.
Years after being taught by my parents to drive a car defensively, I found myself in Europe where aggressive driving is mandatory if you want to get anywhere. At the same time, I learned to drive a standard/stick shift car. When I was again comfortable behind the wheel, I had a lot of fun traveling both on the autobahn and on narrow country roads there.
We had a sleek and sporty car that made driving enjoyable.
I visited East Berlin when Germany was a divided country. Walking through Checkpoint Charlie, passing armed guards on every street corner, shopping in stores there and eating at a restaurant next to East German soldiers provided an uncomfortable adventure and left me with an appreciation for my freedom.
I rappelled off a high building,
and waterskied on lakes.
I explored indoor and outdoor market places in Asia,
and drove on crowded big city streets there, where traffic rules and lane lines on the road seem to be only suggestions and dodging motorbikes was commonplace.
I took a tour of the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea – another unsettling experience leaving me thankful for my life circumstances.
I’m grateful for the people along my life path who made my experiences available. While not death-defying feats, the things I did took strength and courage. Somewhere deep within this broken body is the spirit of my youth and a soul that soars. I can no longer do most of the things I did years ago, but now I use the same courage to tackle adventures like transferring my failing body from one place to another, or going places outside the comfort of my house when I’m not certain my body will behave itself. They are smaller successes, but they involve physical risks and emotional hurdles that take as much courage….sometimes more.
Trying new things during the younger part of my life prepared me for this time in life. I’m still willing to try new things. The anxiety of not fitting in and around places with my scooter, worrying about my batteries not supplying enough power to reach my destination or whether my unusual symptoms will make others uncomfortable are things that tempt me to forfeit the challenge of going outside my comfort zone. Moving my body or having others move it often requires courage. The events have changed in level of excitement and fun, but there is still a sense of adventure offered in my days. Although the accomplishments may not seem life-changing to anyone else, they are triumphs nonetheless. What I face on a daily basis now can seem risky and obstacles, when overcome, can be claimed as victories. I am still rewarded with a sense of accomplishment when successes are achieved.
I’ve never jumped cars like Evel Knievel or tight-roped over Niagra Falls like Nik Wallenda, but I have achieved my own victories in the past…and I still do today. Life screams to be celebrated so today I will celebrate who I once was, but also who I am now.
Note: Aside from the subway pictures and the one of the autobahn, the photos are mine, some snipped from movies. It’s me next to the plane, rappelling and skiing.