What Is Your Excuse Today?

I changed my mind before entering the blue doors of the weight room in my gym. There was the soothing sound of water trickling  down from the fountain. I felt more thirsty as I waited.

— “Hey, Saad!” exclaimed a low voice. I looked to my right. He just came out of that blue door of the weight room.

— “You used to be my TA !” he said. It always feels good to meet your past students, especially ones that still remember you. I looked hard. Remembering my students’ names used to be my forte, but probably not anymore.

— “Hey! I completely forgot your name. Which course was it?”

— “You were my TA in that intro programming course, about 5 years ago. I am Jason.” I still could not remember him. My memory sucks.

— “Jason! It’s great to meet you! What are you up to now? Grad school?”

— “No, I am in my junior year.” Which means he has about a year more in the college, I figured. A little surprising, I thought, because most undergrads finish college in 3-4 years. He seemed to be in a hurry. I looked down and didn’t find any words. Any appropriate words, to be precise.

— “See ya later!” We broke off.

***   ***   ***

Yesterday was a Sunday night. Not too many people in the gym. I was pushing myself hard on the elliptical cross trainer with my orange headphones on. My sweat was dripping from the forehead to the gray floor, making small black patches. It felt good. At one point I looked up and there was Jason, walking in front of me. He smiled. I smiled back and waved my hand. Now I remembered.

Jason got on to the treadmill in front of me, slightly to my left to be exact. I was watching him, bottom to top. He had a pair of orange Nike sneakers on him, then black legs, white shorts and a white tee, then a head full of shiny black hairs. He started to walk slowly on the machine before picking up a little pace. I was watching. He had an impressive shoulder and upper back as well as biceps and triceps. As time wore on I noticed that he was not really running, but walking with steady gaits. His palms kept clutching the handles in front of him. I was watching. A small red light kept blinking on the black background of the back of his left leg.

He was done after about half an hour. Getting off the treadmill he walked off, once again smiling and waving on me. I kept watching.

***   ***   ***

When you are running for an hour by yourself all kinds of thoughts come across your mind. Things you got to do. Things you should have done. Things you almost grasped for yourself. Things you can never have. Things you will never have. Things your peers have but you don’t. Things you always have planned to do. Things. A lot of things.

For me there is always an excuse for everything I missed.

Jason doesn’t have time for any excuses, though. He is full of life. He has both his legs amputated right from the middle thighs. He has his black, artificial legs, complete with knee joints and a pair of Nike sneakers. He is back after two years. In the change room I saw that he has a 5 inches long, deep, brown, thick surgery mark right in the middle of this chest. He lifts weights. He runs. He is full of life. A small red light blinks from the back of his left leg, just where his calves should have been. He is full of life. He will finish college in about a year. He doesn’t put up excuses. He is full of life and I know that he will be whatever he wants to be. He will capture every single of his dreams. He doesn’t put up excuses.

What is your excuse today?



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