I wasn’t sold on skiing again; not even sure I wanted to try; afraid my arthritic knees would give out. And besides, our last ski trip was 15 years ago. I’d assumed skiing was behind me, something I used to do. But I couldn’t let the rest of my family go to Santa Fe without me, and our five-year-old granddaughter, Madden, was joining us for her first ski trip. How could I not be part of that? Everyone else including Madden skied three days, but I skied only the first day. I knew at the end of Saturday I was finished, and any further attempts would likely end in serious injury.
But what happened to Cyndi and me was surprising: this trip reawakened our love for skiing, and as we rode the lift together we started planning more family trips.
The reason for the surprise, at least for me, was how soon this reawakening followed a recent and pivotal conversation we had one noon at Rosa’s. The observation and question I usually hear is, “Why are you limping?” However, this time Cyndi’s sister, Tanya, asked, “Are you a candidate for knee replacement?”
“When are you going to get it done? Why are you waiting?”
“I don’t know. I’m not ready to give up running, yet.” What I didn’t say, but knew, was that I’d only run six times since Thanksgiving, and none of those were pleasant. In truth, I’d given up running already.
Minimizing knee pain has informed almost every decision I’ve made in the past ten years. It’s kept me from doing fun things with Cyndi, like hiking in Verana or the Kalalau Trail. It’s pushed back too many of the dreams that once energized my life, and I want those dreams back.
I’m fully aware that I may never run again after knee replacement, but I’m not completely convinced of that. We’ll see what happens. As Cyndi has noted, what I currently call running is “hardly running at all,” more like power walking, and surely I could keep doing that. My consistent prayer has been to ask God to remove the love of running from my heart whenever He thinks it is time. He hasn’t done that yet.
Thinking about knees and dreams has reminded me how important cycling has become. Not just as a form of vigorous exercise, which I love, but also as a vehicle for ambition and creativity. I need something in my life that pushes my own expectations. Carroll and Mark did me a big favor when they talked me into cycling, long before it was all I could do.
During one of my Santa Fe non-skiing days I was flipping through Penelope Lively’s excellent memoir, Dancing Fish and Ammonites, when I saw this comment about gardening: “The miraculous power of gardening: it evokes tomorrow, it is eternally forward-looking, it invites plans and ambitions, creativity, expectation.”
Her description of gardening is exactly how I want to live my life: forward-looking adventures, ambitions, creativity, and expectations. I want the important things in my life - work, sports, hobbies, ministries, and writing - to be forward-looking. I want to be engaged in things that make the future bigger, brighter, bolder, and smarter.
I want a life that spills over onto people and pushes them deeper into life. I know such a life can exist even with bad cranky knees, but thinking about new knees has reawakened me. It has leaned me forward. I can once again see on my horizon epic dreams of long distances and endurance adventures and moving on dirt with my guys.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32