Yesterday I purchased a treadmill at Canadian Tire.
A lot of us 40 years olds do things like this in the hopes of prolonging our grasp on youth; memories of stamina don’t quite elude us but the prospect of eternal couch-potato-hood looms all too clear in our futures. That doesn’t make much sense but neither does spending $800 and leaving the thing in the corner to collect dust.
My dog, Hokie, learned how to use the thing within five minutes and as of today has reached speed level 5 (for her a pretty brisk trot). The handful of times she slid off the back she anxiously waited for us to press stop so that she could jump up and do it again. She even knows the word “treadmill”…tail wags..can we do it again, please please please? When we’re done she jumps on my lap on the futon that sits across from the treadmill all excited and proud of herself. She just learned something on her own, with just a little encouragement. If we do it, she wants to learn it, too.
John and I know another young woman (19 in human years, about the same as Hokie in dog years) that has been given about as many opportunities as Hokie has. In both cases their food and shelter are covered by someone else. Both have been “trained”. One for almost 4 years, the other for 19. One has most definitely been given more scratches behind the ears than the other, and that’s the one that appears to appreciate whats been given to them exponentially more than the other. We obviously don’t expect any financial return on Hokie. We know full well what her monthly expenses are going to be. She pays us back with love that I’ve never witnessed from any other dog. The other one, however, has decided to cease learning and progressing. She has also thoughtlessly kicked her brother’s assistance into the gutter and finds a way to blame him.
I know comparing dogs and humans isn’t fair…to the dog. Hokie wants to learn all the time; maybe not for herself, but to make us happy (that’s what goldens do). People need to do this for themselves or risk living out their lives with the mundane prospect of watching others’ on television, or out their own window..a prisoner of “what might have been.”
Some people thrive more when nothing is handed to them, especially those where a silver platter isn’t involved. A stark contrast between siblings: one given everything has no desire to succeed, whereas the other accomplished everything on his own without a helping hand. She plays with the silver platter as if it were a boomerang. “Not good enough, I want something better! This time have it engraved and have it on my desk by tomorrow morning.”
This morning I got on the treadmill for the first time since I quit the gym a few years ago. I made it to level four before my pulse reached a point where I realized I better stay put. Someday I hope to get to level 5.
Here’s to you, Hokie. Already at level 5 and aiming higher.
For those of you used to my never-ending cynicism, I promise to return to my regularly scheduled programming next time. I also had this idea for a book, maybe write a bit each week and post it. Someone give me encouragement!