When I am on the elliptical machine at the health club, there sometimes is a particular elderly gentleman on one of the stationary bicycles opposite me. He wears variations of a darker plaid, short sleeve, button-down shirt untucked over his pressed khaki pants. He is content to methodically push the pedals with his brown, rubber-soled street shoes over nylon dress socks. Occasionally he has a pen in his chest pocket and keeps time by the gold watch on his wrist. He does not watch TV while he bicycles and seems unconcerned with his surroundings.
He is not sad and not happy. When I smile at him he smiles back and goes slowly about his business, shuffling to the next weight-lifting machine even though his trainer Rory gently reminds him, “John, walk heel to toe”.
My book, Just Keep Going, had arrived published and in boxes the night before. While I work an ab machine, I think about how this gentleman takes me back to my conviction that God really likes perseverance. This man John affirms that I am glad I chose that title for my book.
After he passes by me, I sneak over to his trainer to tell her that watching him come here week after week blesses me. I assume he has had a stroke and wants some rehabilitation but there is no indication that he is at all impaired. He only walks slowly. Rory agrees that it is cool to see someone who has no compulsion to wear anything that stretches to the health club and who continues to work at a pace which is his own – slow but steady. He shows up to get better in some way, or maybe to feel better. Or maybe he comes to please his wife or son or himself. He comes back and he does not give up. I know almost nothing about this man yet I have this little love and admiration for him.
I end my comments with his trainer Rory, and we split up as we finish. She turns her head back to me as she walks away and says, “Yep, he reminds me, ya gotta just keep going.”