I had barely lasted a half mile. As in, I hadn’t even hit the half mile mark. As in, I had barely even begun my workout. The grumbling started earlier than normal. My muscles grumbled, my brain grumbled, my heart grumbled, my lungs grumbled. Grumblegrumblegrumble. I didn’t want to be running, I didn’t want to give up running, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be anywhere else, etc.
Harrumph. Blegh. Ew.
I smiled to the lady next to me while she settled her waterbottle into the holder and clipped the safety clip to her sweatshirt.
“Good morning!” I said, with false cheer. Such a hypocrite, yes, but if I’m going to be grumbly I might as well try to make someone else smile, right? She smiled back. Her grandchildren are probably about my age. The wrinkles and white curls prove testament.
“I wish I could do that,” she nodded to my pace while settling in for a careful walk. It wasn’t bitter, but it was fact.
A quiet reflection, yes; one I almost didn’t hear above the thudding of my New Balance on the treadmill. It echoed with each stride. It cut through my grumbling. It pounded into my head as I pounded the virtual pavement.
I wish I could do that. I wish I could do that. I wish I could do that.
I had been grumbling about taking a run. I had been counting down the seconds until I could hop off and call it a respectable “warm up” jog without embarrassing myself in front of all the hard-core gym-ers. I had been taking for granted my opportunities.
The perfectly coiffed white hair stayed in place while the lady kept walking. One step after another, she did what she could. She wasn’t running, she wasn’t jogging, but she was moving and she was enjoying it. The continued smile proved it.
I complain because I can run. She’s happy because she can walk.
I complain because running is such hard work. She’s happy because her body is still working.
I grumble about having to be on eleven airplanes in four weeks, but it’s my job and a job means income and income means, well, food.
I grumble about having to tackle the challenges of transitioning to a new culture as a newlywed, but a couple years ago I was grumbling about the lack of a quality, available man while my friends celebrated their wedding anniversaries.
I grumble about having to fix yet another meal for the bottomless stomach that is my husband, while forgetting the blessing that is his hard-working self.
She’ll never know how much her one comment has forced a change in my perspective. I’ve never seen her before, I’ll probably never see her again. But in one exchanged pleasantry, I saw my perspective start to shift. I finishing my self-imposed exercise in self-discipline, aerobic activity, and mental fortitude and got off the treadmill a changed girl: what started as just a little treadmill time has turned into a reminder of just how blessed I am.