• Richard Portugal

I Saw A Man



Stephen Crane, who authored “The Red Badge of Courage”, also wrote this

succinct poem in 1905:


I saw a man pursuing the horizon;

Round and round they sped.

I was disturbed at this;

I accosted the man.

“It is futile,” I said,

“You can never -”

“You lie,” he cried,

And ran on.


I saw a man who has suffered with Parkinson’s for ten years continue to play tennis, golf and exercise with weights weekly to maintain his strength, independence and quality of life. He perceived life with intensity and a sense of humor. He accepted PD and made it his own. He understood his medication, took it on time and accredited its effects. He learned to own the disease, not deny it. He learned to fight, not succumb.


I saw a woman who had a severely dislocated shoulder exercise daily with resistance bands to increase her range of motion and maintain her strength, independence and quality of life. She was told that full range of motion would elude her and to accept her limitations. She worked hard and regained full range of motion. She chased her horizon and caught it.


I saw a man who suffered from dementia exercise weekly to maintain both his circulatory efficacy and muscle mass to maintain his strength, independence and quality of life. There were times that light would blaze from his eyes, that an inner resource would be rekindled. At those brief instances, you could witness his inner soul determined to maintain his spirit and recall who he was.


I saw a woman with Meniere’s disease exercise her upper body and legs for strength and balance to maintain her independence and quality of life. Through sudden attacks of balance loss, vertigo and dizziness, she was determined to function with resolve and fortitude. Accepting her attacks, she partitioned them to a corner of her life. An attack would unbalance her, but the rest of her life was in balance.


I saw a world class athlete, who in his late 80’s suffered a stroke, painstakingly exercise with weights and bands to increase his range of motion and maintain his strength, independence and quality of life. This was a man who did not recognize the concept of futility. He disciplined his mind to exercise and slowly regained the use of his limbs. He was a structural engineer who utilized a steely determination to regain what was lost. Futility was not within his vocabulary.


I saw a woman, in her seventies and overweight with knee and back problems, go on a diet and dutifully exercise on a weekly basis to maintain her strength, independence and quality of life. She was a woman who was expected to sit in a chair and allow time to slowly claim her. She was a woman who nevertheless decided to chase her horizon and live her life.


I saw a man, who had suffered with MS for twenty years, tenaciously exercise his upper body to preserve his ability to transfer from his wheelchair to a chair in a restaurant or into his car and maintain his strength, independence and quality of life. He would not recognize the futility of his efforts, but rather challenged his disease and controlled its symptoms.


All of these individuals demonstrated an inner resolve and fortitude. No one tells them it is futile, for to chase their horizons is a spiritual quest which is inspirational to any observer. They all pursue their horizons; they do not think it is futile!


Copyright © 2018 Richard J. Portugal All rights reserved.


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