Tree Trunk In My Way


For someone who often willingly glues himself to his desk, I’m a physical, movement-oriented person. I need to exercise, do things, play things. I like to compete. I love to test my limits.

And as lucky as I’ve been and as devoted as I am to my fitness, my limits are a lot closer than they used to be. The bar is no longer getting higher. It’s only dropping lower.

About two years ago I wrote about my declining physical capacity in a post titled “The Inevitable Decline.” My tripping over a guardrail (but not falling on my face) prompted it.

I wrote about how I’d given up playing hockey and basketball over the years. I stopped aggressive mountain biking. What used to be a fifteen-mile hike is now a five or seven miler. Nothing unexpected here—it’s all part of the natural aging process: this hurts, that hurts, and the other thing doesn’t move the way I want it to anymore.

But recently I’ve been trying to run more often, just a few miles. Running is a generous word in this case, but I can’t face up to the word jogging.

So I’m out there again and running off-road on the water main trail near my house and lo and behold ahead of me a fallen tree lies across the trail, its trunk huge in diameter. And a little bit of the old thrill hits me: can I hurdle over it?

I’m not a natural daredevil or risk taker. I definitely don’t want to get injured. But this isn’t facing a log jump on my mountain bike thinking “I might be able to get over that” or a steep downhill through a rock garden trying to tell myself “There might be a way through that.” It’s just the trunk of a tree across a flat trail. I have nothing to prove. I can step up on it. I can put my hand on it and step over.

Instead, I pick up speed and give it a go. I successfully hurdle over the trunk. I act like it’s a big deal, and maybe it is when the bar gets this low.

I take these little thrills where we can get them. Like the other day, when I’m hiking with my friend and we’re within sight of the summit of a small mountain, but the trail near the top turns icy and strewn with boulders. It’s slippery and difficult to navigate. Do I take the time to sit down and put my ice spikes over my boots? I do not. I’m so near the top I just want to get there. I end up crab-walking on all fours, slipping on the ice and gripping the rock as I work my way to the top.

After a brief rest and paying homage to the view, it’s time to descend.

“Are we going to put our ice spikes on? A quarter mile down we’ll be taking them off again.”

“You don’t want to fall and get injured because your spikes are in your pack and not on your feet.”

Good point. I put them on for the walk down. Just because the physicality bar keeps lowering doesn’t mean my intelligence has to take a beating too.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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