One of the conversation habits of others I tend to find particularly irksome is when someone has a hobby horse that they bring up at every available opportunity. As someone with a wide variety of interests, I tend to find those who can speak with variety themselves much more enjoyable company . Nevertheless, I do find myself very frequently pondering a question that perhaps occurs to few other people (at least few other people I know), and that is the question of how can there be so many ways that walking is painful. I know I am not alone in this because I know of at least one other person in my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances for whom this question is more than academic, but all the same it is striking and often quite frustrating that the simple task of walking can be so often such a terribly difficult matter.
After having unluckily managed to fall asleep earlier than intended last night with both a laptop and a book in my bed (about as crowded as you will ever find it), I managed to find myself awake this morning with a considerable amount of pain in my knee. As I hobbled about my room and the neighboring restroom to get ready for work this morning, I pondered whether it would be best to use crutches or to hobble about as is sometimes my fashion, and I decided, narrowly, that I could manage hobbling about and walking slowly as I could walk and bend my knee even if the mobility was a bit lower and even if there was (and is, as I write this) a considerable amount of persistent pain in the knee as well as soreness in the hip and even the neck, since I am guessing something got tweaked or pulled out of place and is hurting everything all the way up the body. At any rate, the reason I somewhat hesitate to mention this is that I tend to complain about my feet and legs an awful lot, and it is rather bothersome that they should give me such regular and such varied trouble.
It is one thing, for example, to have occasional woes in one’s feet and legs. This is not too unusual of an occurrence for many people, who sometimes get charley horses or sprain some sort of muscle, and only have to deal with it once in a great while. It is one thing for someone to have a chronic foot problem (like my gout) that they are aware of and that they deal with through dietary means so as to keep themselves as healthy as possible. It is another thing, though, to have a variety of problems that make it hard to walk that could appear on any given morning, with little knowledge of what one is supposed to do about it except try to cope as well as possible. It would be nice to take walking for granted, to know that one could get around reliably well without having to think or worry about one’s own personal mobility, but that is clearly not the case with me and has not been for some time.
It so happens, that today was a more than usually active day, and that I felt stubborn enough to do what I felt I needed to do even if it was a less than pleasurable experience to do so. Hobbling down to the second floor for a weekly meeting to deal with questions of invoices and calculations based on them? Check. Hobbling about for a slightly overdue haircut? Check. Writing about said hobbling? Check. It struck me as I thought about this that people who complain about their ailments, like poor Mr. Woodhouse of Jane Austen’s Emma, are similar to those who have a hobby horse, and for similar reasons. If one has an all-consuming and somewhat narrow interest, there is the comfort of always knowing at least something to say, even if it is not original. If one has a consistent sort of woe, the same sort of reality presents itself, in that there is always something to mention about one’s difficulties, even if they are not particularly new. Such simplifications on what to say on the part of the speaker, though, do not necessarily make it any more enjoyable for someone else to read or listen to, though.
 See, for example: