A recent article in The New York Times “Modern Love” column titled The Hard Won Lessons of the Solitary Years resonated with me. Although there are lessons that we learn while IN relationships, there are also many lessons we learn the older we are as singles. Which is why it always bothered me when my coupled up counterparts would speak to me in a condescending way about things that I “wouldn’t understand” because I wasn’t married or in a relationship at the time.
What I found ironic though is that I was learning life lessons as an independent woman that would go on to benefit me later. There’s no right or wrong answer to what age is best for getting married; everyone has their own path, but in the meantime we should be cognizant of the way we speak to our friends who are on a different path and make sure we are respectful. Everyone learns their own hard fought lessons on their own time and we never know what someone is going through, it’s best to appreciate what they bring to the table — a perspective that comes from being in a different stage of life than ours.
Every day I go to the gym; there is a man there that walks on the treadmill. He has a lot of difficulty simply walking. His steps are awkward and jerky, and he has to grip the sides of the machine tightly so he doesn’t fall. Every step is obviously very painful. Though I can’t see his face, I can hear him wincing sometimes, and he always looks like he is on the verge of falling.
I recently saw this man at the local movie theater where he was taking tickets as an employee. I talked to him for a moment. He has difficulty talking as well, and is confined to a chair.
Everybody needs perspective sometimes. If this man can find the strength to get out of bed every morning and not only live through the pain, but force himself to exercise (which is probably especially painful for him), and also force himself to get a job, which may not be easy either, maybe I can not have a huge fit in my car if traffic is making my commute three minutes longer in the afternoon.
I sometimes think it’s some huge burden to have to spend an hour and a half at the gym every day, but whenever I’m exercising, and I see him, I not only gain faith in humanity, but I try not to think about my problems — the biggest problem at that moment being how much my feet hurt and how badly I want to die or at least pretend to faint and fall off my machine so that I can momentarily experience some sort of physical relief.
Then again, once I leave the gym, I completely forget about everything I just learned. I just want to get my dinner and sit in bed and feel sorry for my terrible middle-class life. The Daily Show is on reruns all week? Are you serious? I need The Daily Show to be on and be new immediately after I get out of my nightly shower. I already heard that joke! Not only that, but I knew it was coming, and I already know everything the political guest trying to maintain relevance to the younger generation is going to say! I just want to wake up and have it be next week. I can’t live like this anymore.