Monday, September 06, 2010

Engaged In Conversation - Atchison

My friend and I engaged in a conversation the other day. It centered on the activities we do and the benefits that we receive from them. The history to the conversation is that I have been struggling with a decision over the last several months. I was taking part in a rather physical sport when I became injured. This added to the stress my body was (and is) going through with other sports related injuries and it came to a culmination of the fact that perhaps I should be seeking alternate, safer activities.

The problem is, this sport provides access to a club and a group setting of friends and events that are rewarding and challenging. There is a great deal of prestige once one reaches a certain level of training, which provides the ego with a great boost. So to leave the people I’ve grown to love and the ‘prestige’ that comes with the training level I’ve achieved is quite a difficult decision.

I am also a volunteer at a local animal shelter, where I can be seen on Wednesdays feeding and caring for stray cats with my head buried inside cages, cleaning out eliminated waste and kitty boxes, washing their dishes and trays and preparing clean cages for them to be moved to the next day. It is hard, demanding work, but the rewards are so great that I love being there.

Getting back to the conversation I had with my friend…

She had recently visited her mother in a nursing home and sitting around the table was a scientist, a long-ago secretary to a high profile politician, and a couple of other well educated and successful members of society. While these seniors had their dinner, no one cared at that point what they had done in their lives, who they had been or who they knew. The accomplishments they had gained or the lives they had led were all but lost with their memories.

We pulled our conversation toward the fact that it may be more important that in the aspect of maintaining my health I continue with my work in helping animals, which provides quiet, non prestigious rewards to the animals in my care, and to the feelings I hold when I walk out of the shelter. This is an importance far greater than whether I should continue with a sport that has great prestige to many people depending on the high-ranking level of training achievement I receive, but could cause my body injurious grief and pain over the next several years if I continue.

In my life, it matters to me now that I can continue the work of taking care of animals in need. A far greater accomplishment than that of continuing a sport just to say, “Guess what I’ve got, that many people have never been able to do.”

I’m not sure if I’ve properly conveyed the message I meant to write about. I guess when it becomes my time to sit around a table with a handful of seniors in a nursing home, will it matter to any of them, and will they care or even know what I gave up so many years before.

But for now, with my health intact and the ability to care for one of God’s beautiful creatures, I’ll continue volunteering with my hands immersed in poohy water listening to the mewling of stray kitties looking for a home. When I reach old age, perhaps it will be these memories that will be the last to leave me, and I’ll cherish them with a light and happy heart.

As for the challenge of what to do after a decade of training and saying good-bye to the people in the sports club I’ve come to love and cherish, I’ll leave it in God’s hands to help me be strong and will listen to His voice as He directs me in the changes and future activities that come my way.

Sometimes the best conversations come from God, through the friends He gives us. I guess it is best to listen to the advice He shares.

Patricia L. Atchison
Writing & Publishing Blog:

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Your candid personal reflection speaks to aspects of my life, although the circumstances differ.
You work your process of heart examination and evaluation through to your conclusion in a positive unpreachy manner.
Thank you.

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