We’ve recently changed up our exercise routine because Kim needs to rest his ankle and shoulder, so he’s off the racquetball court and I’m out of Aqua Zumba for now. Instead we’re swimming laps in the early mornings. Our spring/summer schedule filled up when we weren’t paying attention, so the earlier start every day has been a good thing, and Kim’s owies are starting to like the new regimen.
One of my last class sessions was something I’m glad I didn’t miss — you can’t prepare for serendipities, you just have to be lucky enough to notice all the little nudges that take you through your days in style.
Okay, I need to tell you that when John was just out of college and starting his first career, he got involved with an organization that provided a social life for developmentally-challenged young adults. His stories were funny and endearing, and it was clear right away that he had a gift for what he was doing. He eventually went on to exchange his design career for one as an oncology RN, and he’s not only really good at that, his tenderness for his first clients has stayed with me.
So there was a morning a while back when I’d almost skipped Zumba class … again. But hey, I showed up. I was in the water warming up when the door opened and a young guy with killer abs walked in, followed by several men of mostly indeterminate age and clearly working under challenges of various sorts. Nice Ab Guy asked if this was Zumba class and I said yes. He asked the instructor if it would be okay for them to work out with us and she said of course! So he helped the other guys tighten their waistband drawstrings, finessed ear and nose plugs, and coaxed them into the shallow end of the pool. They were none too sure about the whole thing, but their shy smiles were to die for. The eldest had scars over his back and arms that looked like severe burn damage and I prayed that some inferior human creature hadn’t hurt him on purpose.
The music cranked up, loud as always, and the new guys, with encouragement from a dozen or more mamas, got into it. Ab Man was born to dance, and obviously to help people who need him. The sweet guy with the burn scars was so sincere and earnest about trying to keep up with the moves, I had to put my face in the water to camo the tears. One young guy spent his time looking around, blowing bubbles, and making the water splash big. He may have had the best time of anyone. Every glance at one of us asked “Is this okay? Can I do this?” When class ended we all told them to be sure and come back, but that didn’t happen before I dropped out. I hope they remember their time with us as one of the really good days.
I’m lazy and whiny and it’s almost second nature for me to pick the easy way if there is one. Those guys’ lives are hard in ways I’ll never experience, but they keep going and they’re as stoic as anyone I’ve ever seen. I hope the people they encounter will be unfailingly kind to them and that even though they’ve been burned by life they’ll never lose those shy sweet smiles and their willingness to be and do and keep on giving. I have no right to even ask that … but there’s so much they can teach the rest of us and we need them.