A daily two-mile walk is an excellent thing for many of us. Nothing like fresh air, exercise and an invigorating conversation with your walking buddy. Those 4,000-plus steps can clear your thinking, give you more energy and actually change your mood for the better — until one morning it doesn’t.

A full-out body slam forward onto concrete can change your life in just a split second, leaving you to rely on someone else for the simplest chores in your daily living and until your doctor (and your pain level) deems you able to accomplish things for yourself. Tasks like opening a pain-pill bottle or picking up a glass of water to take that pain pill can be a little daunting, when both hands are shrieking at you for using them.

The fractured elbow which also came with my fall doesn’t easily lend itself to many parts of living that previously I never gave much thought. Ever attempted to raise the footrest on your recliner when the lever is located on your helpless side? (Or worse, need to make a visit to the bathroom after drinking a glass of water to take said pain pill and find yourself trapped in that recliner with the footrest up — because you have ended up alone in the house for a little while.)

Take this writer’s word for it, folks, watch where you are walking. Taking for granted that the sidewalk is going to be smooth and level while you are looking ahead to speak to your neighbor? Not always a smart decision. Trust me, spiteful snickering trees that apparently can grow invasive roots overnight cooperating with a willing sidewalk — “Hey guys, watch what we’re gonna do to this woman!” — can cause a formerly glassy-smooth stretch of concrete to have ridges the size of Mount Olympus. Thankfully, I didn’t land on my face. I would much rather have sprains and fractures to complain about than have to endure facial reconstruction and handle all the snarky quips and jokes that come with that territory — like, “Well, hello there, Mrs. Bowman! Decided to have a nose job and raise the cheek bones a little, did we now? Well, I’m certain everyone will simply love it, once the bruising and all that swelling goes away. Until then, you might want to avoid my little puppy, he scares rather easily, you know.”

Am I going to give up outdoor walking? Nope, but I am committing to ignoring my neighbor until I come to a complete standstill. I am convinced that my nice friend will be forgiving of my suddenly impolite behavior — whereas our rude sidewalk seems committed to unforgivable behavior akin to a neighborhood bully.

Folks, keep exercising. Keep enjoying what keeps you active and smiling, but keep one eye out for aggressive and bad-mannered sidewalks. One split-second encounter with a vindictive piece of concrete can rearrange your lifestyle for a few days or weeks.

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Andy E. Bowman has been a Southern Baptist pastor in Oklahoma and Florida for more than 30 years. Recently medically retired from that field, he and his wife, Renie, now author the column Coffeetime with Brother Andy, writing on currently relevant topics from a conservative and humorous viewpoint. The new “Coffeetime With Andy & Renie Podcast” can be found at or your favorite podcaster site.

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