That was the last thing a friend said to me face to face six years ago before he passed. While that time is something I try not to look back on, I often hear those words in my head when I run. Running is one thing that makes me happy and keeps me smiling. I may not be the best at it...but at the end of each run all is right with the world.
I feel the same way about the West Sixth Brewery Run Club. That is where I got my start. That is where I feel the best before and after runs. That is where the small group of people we meet every Tuesday has become like family. It is a place where I am very comfortable and I think I could stay forever...
Tonight was a great run. It was a new route and the weather was perfect. I paced myself and was the last one from our group back, but I truly enjoyed it. I found myself just looking up at the sky as I ran (although I do not recommend it at night in the fall on sidewalks!). It may sound odd, but running makes me realize how small we really are in the grand scheme of things. As I run I can't help but notice how lost people are in their own lives. But at the same time I also come face to face with problems in society that leave me feeling uncomfortable.
While running downtown I see a lot of people. I see children in daycares that are open 24 hours, spending the nights away from the parents while they work. I see homeless people pushing their carts down the street, or accepting a simple bag of potatoes from a church donation line. I have to run past these people, and while I often find myself saying "excuse me" or "sorry" or "hi" as I pass them, it leaves my heart heavy that I cannot do anything at that moment. I find myself looking directly into their eyes as I pass. I wonder what they think of me as I keep running with my headphones on. At first I was a little nervous that they may say or try to do something harmful, but it just seems that they are going about their own business, and that makes me sad for some reason. I am not sure why. Perhaps that is why I like running in the park or on the trails. Nature is harsh, but not that harsh. The eyes are the window to the soul...and while as a northerner I rarely make eye contact with people, I find that I can read people and their feelings when I do. Sometimes it is wonderful, sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is sad...sometimes I do it for no reason...it is something I recommend trying. Reading people is a very excited thing...even if you cannot act on it or help at that moment. As a society we need to do that more....and act on it....(if only I had the courage.)
At the same time, seeing all this makes me realize how really "blessed" I am. After each run I have a great group of loved ones and friends waiting for me at the end (most times with beer :) ) Although we all have busy lives, we make time for each other on Tuesday nights. We sit and enjoy some beer and each other while telling stories and planning new and exciting trips. Never did I think such a wonderful time would come out of going to a brewery and running 3 short miles. It is something small and simple, but perhaps that is where we need to spend most of our time as a society. Not at a brewery, but with friends...doing the small and simple things. I have realized over the past few years that life is very short. At any moment, life can decide that it no longer needs you in it. A good night of conversation and laughter can really heal the soul. It can keep you happy...healthy and smiling.
In other news, the brewery group are all taking a ski trip in Feb. I am beyond excited....and a little nervous. I can ski...but I can't stop...which can be a problem while skiing. Wish me luck...my plan is to at least look cute out on the slopes...or the lodge...or the ambulance...or wherever this little adventure may take me :)