An Emotional Week Had Me Asking, “Why Am I Getting 20,000 Steps a Day?”

“I’m so nervous! Look at my hand shaking”, said Emma as she was waiting to take her driver’s test. I tried to calm her down, but nothing was working. 

Over the past nine months Emma’s skills grew from navigating our neighborhood streets to driving to school, on the expressway and even in the city.

92She was a good driver and I was confident she could pass the test, but admittedly I was also a little nervous for her. If she didn’t pass it would be from a stress induced mistake.

On the way to the MVA she glanced at the speedometer and announced she would fail. Part of the road test included driving through a neighborhood where the speed limit was 25 mph. She had been told if she went above 30 that was grounds for failure. We were on a road with a 25 mph limit when she noticed her speed. She was doing 32. This was so not good.

They were running late at the MVA so we had to sit and wait. That’s when Emma showed me her shaking hand and kept talking about how nervous she was. It didn’t help seeing a couple other young drivers walk into the room telling their parents they passed the test. Somehow, that only moved the bar higher for Emma.

She was particularly nervous about the Two Point Reverse Turn. Earlier in the week she had practiced that maneuver on a nearby parking lot. It did not go well. It didn’t matter that the circumstances were different…smaller space…no cones with markers to help her navigate. She didn’t do well and that tape kept looping through her brain.

We sat. We waited.

Finally Emma’s name was called. We were instructed to get in the car and drive to the back side of the MVA building and wait for the test administrator. We did and then…

…we sat and we waited…

Finally, the person who held Emma’s entire future appeared and motioned Emma to move the car forward. I got out and went back into the building. Emma’s test began and I wouldn’t see her again until after she had either passed or failed.

Last week was Week 16 of this 20k One Year Step Challenge. The goal is 20,000 steps every day for a year with no breaks. It was also a week of emotional reflection. Emma is the youngest of our six children. Getting her license also meant the end of my job as a Parental Chauffeur.

For almost 30 years, Ava and I have spent a lot of time in the car driving our kids places. I bet if we added it all up, the cumulative total would be measured in years.

That season of life was coming to an end. I got emotional on Monday night when I drove her to volleyball practice. I was aware it was the last time for that. Ava was emotional the final time she drove Emma to school…and me the last time I picked her up.

And, then there was the picture hanging above my desk at home. It had nothing to do with driving, but everything to do with life. Before Emma was even born we spent a night with our oldest five kids making little wooden people.

12.24.18a.jpgIt felt like yesterday, but it wasn’t. Time moves fast and I was feeling that acutely last week.

Staring at that picture of my younger self in a season of life that is almost over, I wondered, ”Why am I doing this?”

Why am I spending so much time getting 20,000 steps every day. Why do I wake up early to do a 20 minute high intensity cardio workout? Why am I doing strength training a few times each week?


I’ve long realized we can’t out-exercise death. We can’t even out-exercise aging. I’m still waiting for the headline about the 150 year old person who credits 10,000 steps a day for their longevity. It hasn’t happened and it won’t.

I know what’s coming. I will continue to get older and eventually the end will come. I don’t invest my time pursuing fitness to change that. I can’t. Neither can you. But, what I can change is the quality of my remaining time.

If I can lessen the amount of my life that is spent on reacting to health issues by proactively investing in my health and fitness now, then it’s worth it. I want to enjoy life with as few health restrictions as I possibly can.

So, why am I getting 20,000 steps every day plus the other stuff I do? Because of moments like this.

111Fitness and the enjoyment of the life are not separate. It may feel that way when we are younger, but that entanglement becomes increasingly evident as we age. I want to be fully present and fully able to enjoy all that remains.

That’s why I’m doing this.

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