I like to run in the morning. It’s even better on the weekends when I have the time to travel to my favorite lake. It’s about two and a half miles around the lake. Even on the coldest and snowiest of mornings, there are always other runners there. Seeing them there helps it seem a little more reasonable for me to be out there when a non-runner might think I was unbalanced.
I ran there yesterday morning. It was warm and it felt much like an early Spring morning. There were many more runners than I have encountered 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.
As I finished the first of two loops and ran back up the hill to the parking lot, 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 that sometimes, it only takes a brief moment and a simple exchange for me, and I reckon 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 was encouraged to push really hard up that final hill up to the parking lot. As I arrived there. I once again saw my new friend. Being out of breath and inspired by his smile, I decided to stop to say hello. He immediately started walking my way, removing his glove to shake my hand and introduce himself. His name is Stanley. “Stanley, like the comic book” he said. I had never heard of it, but here’s an image from one of the comics:
He proudly explained that he has been visiting the lake at least one day a 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 hill. It’s just too much for him these days. He began telling stories of bad winter days that kept most people away from the lake, but how others seemed to be drawn out by the weather.
He recalled two doctors that he had met a couple of years ago. 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 a good day full of sharing and spending time with my family and good friends. Once back home and sipping my evening short glass of bourbon, I thought about Stanley, and in particular his questions about the doctors, and the ice, and their seemingly reckless behavior.
Why does anyone do anything? 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. It’s my favorite place to run and my morning run seems directly related to my sanity. Stanley may be there just 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 release 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 use our intuitive nature to help us navigate through our first step and begin our journey.