I like to run in the morning. It’s better on the weekends when I have the time to drive to a local park and my favorite lake. Even on the coldest and snowiest of mornings, there are always other runners there. Seeing them there helps me feel a little less crazy.
I ran there yesterday. It was warm and it felt much like an early Spring morning. There were a lot more runners than I’d seen there in recent weeks. My guess is that some were new runners trying to live up to their recently made New Year’s Resolutions. Others might be in the early stages of training for a Spring Mini or Full Marathon.
I was just there because I love to run.
After finishing the first of two planned loops, I ran past a somewhat elderly Asian gentleman with a small dog. He smiled and waved, calling out some greeting that I couldn’t make out. I returned the wave and said good morning as I ran by. His smile seemed to widen. It’s odd, but I swear it only takes a brief moment and a simple exchange for most of us, to know that we just crossed paths with a genuinely likable soul.
As usual, I felt even better on the second loop. So much better in fact, that I pushed really hard up that final hill up to the parking lot. As I got there, I once again saw my new friend. Despite being out of breath, I decided to stop to say hello. He immediately started walking my way, removing his glove to shake my hand and introduced himself. His name is Stanley. “Stanley, like the comic book” he said. I had never heard of the comic book, but I’ve since Googled it of course, and here’s an image from one of the books.
He proudly explained that he has been visiting the lake at least one day every weekend for over ten years. He used to run, now he walks. He once circled the lake as I do, but has gotten away from that to avoid the big hill. “It’s just too much” for him these days. He soon began telling stories of bad winter days that kept most people away from the lake, but commented that others seemed to be drawn out by the weather.
He shared the story of two doctors that he had met a couple of years before. They made the decision to cross the frozen lake against the advice of signs that were posted saying the ice was too thin to ice skate. “They proceeded very cautiously, I’m sure that they were really afraid”; “They had to know better, Why would medical professionals take such a risk?”, he asked. We talked just a short while longer and then said goodbye, wishing each other a good day. It was the beginning of a good day, filled with time spent with family and good friends.
Later on that evening while sipping on a short glass of my favorite bourbon, I thought about Stanley, and in particular his questions about the doctors, and the ice, and their seemingly reckless behavior.
Why would anyone do anything that seems crazy to others? Why do any of us get out of our warm beds and head to that lake or anywhere else when the conditions aren’t “perfect”?
I know why I’m there. My morning run seems directly related to my sanity. Stanley may be there just for the opportunity to meet new people and share stories. The doctors that he mentioned may have felt the need to have some risk in their lives. It may be a nice escape from all of the pressure related to their profession. They alone could say for sure.
There is a lake, a mountain, and the entire universe out there for all of us. It’s ours to explore and enjoy however we desire. There are people that we should meet and stories that need to be shared. We just have to tap into our intuitive nature, take that first “crazy” step and begin our journey.