Thursday, June 27, 2013

Benchmark #5: Freedom

I wish I had a picture to show you of me with my kids kayaking on the river where I spent so much time when I was a kid, but I didn't want to risk taking my iPhone with me. I did take some shots of them before I jumped into the one-man kayak and headed up the river with them.

Two things compelled me, not the least of which was that their uncle allowed them to go in the kayak alone, while he watched from the dock. This freaked me out a little though he wasn't allowing them to go out of earshot. When I came down to the dock, however, I could not see how far they had gone, and I realized that they were feeling a little over-confident. These are city kids, see. They swim in swimming pools, and there are snapping turtles in that river water!

After calling them back and taking a few photos, another thing compelled me. It was the simple knowledge that "I can do this!" I hopped into the one-man kayak, grabbed a paddle and to their delight, said to the kids "C'mon! Let's go!" In the past I would have never done more than a short, somewhat disappointing paddle up the river if I even went at all, and I would have come home sore and stayed that way for days.

This time, however, I paddled as far as my Crossfitting son could go, and then pushed him a little more. The tide turned at just the right time and we paddled home with a light, favorable current. It was a gorgeous ride up to the "secret" part of the river where motor boats can't navigate well due to the shallow water and narrow passes between fallen trees. It was like having a huge, gorgeous garden, heavy with summer and noisy with wildlife all to ourselves! Turtles, fish, heron, ducks, blue dragonflies, birds, and spiders...It was all wonderful, except for the spiders. Time slipped away quickly, and I don't actually know how long we were gone, though my sister said it was quite a while. I came home with nothing worse than a blister. While we were going we felt like real adventurers paddling on the Amazon, discovering new worlds, but the river was a place so familiar to me--the memories of my childhood, and I was sharing it with my children.

We enjoyed this adventure so much that we repeated it, and went even farther today.

Upon my return home, I ran upstairs, changed my clothes, and ran off to CrossFit to try my one rep max deadlift. I PR'ed at 215 lbs, then endured 12 minutes of excruciating core work.

CrossFit espouses the notion that we are training for life, whether it is paddling with my kids, hauling kayaks onto a dock, or dead lifting at the box. It's pushing myself to be better, stronger, faster, and along with that sharper, wiser, and smarter. It's the the ability to be free from physical limitations and laziness. It's the physical stamina to remain a mentally acute student of life.

There are no guarantees in life, to be sure. My main objective in going to my hometown was to visit my mom, who has Alzheimer's and is living in specialized care. It is painful beyond description to watch the strongest, most influential person in my life deteriorate in such a horrible way. I watched her battle rheumatoid arthritis for all of my life, and the added blow of Alzheimer's seems an unjust and wicked sentence.

I don't know how we could have changed Mom's outcome. There are so many "if only's." Even so, as I look back on her life and the things that may have affected her health and her strength, I see where I can make radical course corrections in my life and can hope that I have made them in time. I want the freedom to enjoy my whole life, my children, my grandchildren, and even the wisdom and activity of my old age. I want to live my whole life free, in good health, with the people I love. I don't want my kids to suffer what I am suffering with my mom.

This is why I CrossFit. Thank you, CrossFit Woodbridge for being the place that has strengthened me to be able to have moments like this with my kids, my family, my life.

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