Friday, December 11, 2009
I went to the gym last Wednesday. As I was sweating away on the stationary bike, a blind woman walked in with her dog and started her workout. I started thinking how great it was that she was there. Then I felt bad for thinking that just because she was blind, I expected her not to be there. Then I realized I don't know how I could be that strong.
Then, a second blind lady came in with a walking stick. What a strange coincidence. This is not a big gym. There are MAYBE 20 machines crammed together in a tiny room.
So the second lady gets on an elliptical machine. I've since moved to the tread mill to walk a bit. She strikes up a conversation with the guy on the machine next to her and asks his help with getting her started. He was a young guy, very friendly. I thought it was so refreshing to see people helping people.
I moved from the treadmill to the stair climber. And she moved to the bike next to me. She asks me to help her get it started. And continued to talk to me for the entirety of my 20 minute stair-climbing hell. Super nice girl.
We talked about jobs and work. We're both transplants from out of state. She kept asking me to update her on how far she had gone, how many calories she had burned, what her speed was (a girl after my own heart!) She talked about how she loves hiking and is part of a blind hiking group and is hoping to find a blind softball league as well. I was shocked. I can't even make sense out of what that would be. I didn't ask because I didn't want to seem ignorant to the fact.
But, it was an amazing experience. Twenty minutes changed my view of people with disabilities. I looked up blind hiking groups the next day. I wanted to volunteer. I wanted to take part. I wanted to help while also doing something I love: hiking.
I haven't found anything yet. But I'm going to keep looking. Even if I'm unsuccessful, it really made me think.
Before I left she asked me where her "friend with the dog was." How did she even know they were there? Amazing.
Maybe I'll run into her again. Maybe we'll become gym friends.