Monday, May 2, 2011

Running Lesson #4: In My Own Backyard

First, for those of you who are under the impression that I'm an extremely dedicated runner, I will start this post with the honest confession that I took all of last week off from my customary tri-weekly jogs. I don't have a super good excuse, but feel the need to be honest.

This evening, I took off for a little jaunt partially because I need to get on track if I'm going to finish the half-marathon I've signed up for in July and partially because I've run out of scapegoats for Mark Franklin's daily inquiry, "Dot, how was your run today."

Advised on a new route, I took off on the back roads behind my house. Running amidst cow fields, horse pastures, and wooded hills, I felt like I could put one foot in front of the other indefinitely this evening. The sun sunk low in the sky and the breeze carried the fresh scent of a babbling brook through the air. In the midst of what is shaping up to be a rather busy week, I was at peace.

For the past year-and-a-half, as long as I've lived with the Franklin's, the lovely cow fields, the Thoroughbred horses, and the babbling brook have all been sitting there waiting to greet me, but I never ventured far enough to discover them. Though only steps out of my own front door, I never had the eyes to see or the will to venture forth and discover the undiscovered.

I travel a lot for work. Every time I'm sent to a new city, I do a little research first on things to explore. At times, I'll find a good restaurant. Or maybe I'll visit some historical landmark. Maybe I'll wander through untamed countryside. I'm always amazed at how I, being a stranger, often visit places locals have never been. They know about these places. They've read in magazines or heard about how great such and such place is from someone else, but have yet to experience those things sitting right in their own back yard.

Sometimes I wonder in my own city, in my own sphere of influence, what things am I missing in my own backyard? Maybe it's the girl walking down NE 82nd. I've never stopped a moment to observe the way she walks and the scant clothes hanging off her frame, but If I did, I might look at her with eyes of compassion. Maybe it's the homeless man who's always standing on the freeway off-ramp, but I've never met his gaze as he stares at me through my windshield, cardboard sign in his hand. Maybe it's the child sitting in kid's church for the 10th Sunday in a row, and I've never seen him before and have no idea what his name is or why he frowns while the other children smile. Maybe it's the promise or the greatness in a friend I've become so familiar with that I've boxed them into my idea of what their life is or should be. Maybe it's my job that in the day to day of showing up at the same office every morning I've forgotten to look for the opportunities and growing experiences each day brings.

Whatever the undiscovered landscape may be, I fully embrace the exploration of my own backyard.

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