The gap between knowledge and wisdom is thin — about the width of a chocolate chunk cookie — but the distance can seem huge when you're standing on the edge of who you are, gazing across the chasm of Who You Want To Be.
My most recent moment at that precipice came in mid January when I arrived at work on a Monday morning, hunched over and moving slow.
The fourth lumbar disc I'd ruptured as a teenager had "gone out" again, leaving me unable to straighten or bend, sit or stand.
Compassionate and well-meaning colleagues showered me with advice. "Have you tried stretching?" "Have you seen a chiropractor?" "Have you taken Advil?" "Have you ever tried yoga?" Have you tried massage?" "Have you tried walking?"
The only helpful advice I didn't receive — because the folks around here are too darn nice — was, "Have you thought about dropping a few dozen pounds of lard and doing a few sit-ups?"
Truth is, I have taken yoga classes, tried walking, gone to chiropractors and hired all manner of massage therapists, from deep-tissue diggers to Rolfers to neuromuscular trigger pointers. I know all about the benefits of moving, stretching the hamstrings, strengthening the abdominals and maintaining a sensible weight.
I just wasn't doing any of those things.
As an editor at a health magazine, where I read and edit stories every day about all the healthy things people can do, the gap between personal knowledge and action finally became too wide for me to bear.
On Jan. 15, I acted. My wife and I joined a fitness club, where I reacquainted myself with swimming. I've missed only a handful of days since. I changed my e-mail and computer passwords to "swimming" to remind myself to go to the pool. We began walking in the evenings after work. And though it still hurts to say this, I broke off my relationship with Pepperidge Farm, Home of the Happy Chocolate Chunk Cookie.
I must admit to a little back-sliding in February during the annual holiday known as Girl Scout Cookie Season. Several boxes of Tag-Alongs, Samoas and Thin Mints challenged, but did not derail, my resolve.
Six months later I am 38 pounds lighter. I can swim an effortless mile, and my back feels fine.
Not an earth-shattering tale, perhaps. Certainly not on a par with recovering from cancer and climbing Mount Everest, but it's my story and I'm sticking with it.
The point of this rather mundane moment of self-indulgence is to spur some of you to do me one better.
We want to publish your story of triumph, recovery, self-awakening or transformation. Tell us about your battle with weight, diabetes, cancer, heart problems, poor vision, poor judgment, broken bones or broken dreams. Maybe by telling your story, you'll inspire someone else to get off the couch and step across the gap between knowledge and wisdom.
E-mail your story (500 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Oregon Healthy Living, 111 N. Fir St., Medford 97501. Please include your phone number.