On Saturday morning I decided to pretend I am athletic and go for a run. I’m still not really sure why but I dragged my lazy-bones self out of bed, dug some sports shorts from the bottom of my drawer, and hit the road.
I always run the same route (reality check: the three times I’ve gone running, I ran the same way) because it’s a good distance for a novice and there’s only one large hill.
Right before the hill is a parking lot. Oh, how I sometimes wish I lived in an apartment off that parking lot because then I could be home from my run rather than approaching said hill.
Unfortunately I don’t. But the girls in the car about to pull out of that parking lot do. Ok, I’ve never met them but I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason they’d be leaving there on a Saturday morning.
We made it to the parking lot-road intersection at the same time so they let me go first. I really appreciated it. I didn’t want to break my (super slow) pace just before the hill. (I would call it the hill of death for emphasis but I’m pretty sure someone who reads this blog knows what I’m talking about and would call me on my melodrama).
As I crossed out of their way, the girls rolled down their windows and began to cheer.
Over the music in my ears I heard, “You can do it! You got this!”
I regret that my back was to them because it meant they couldn’t see the huge smile take up residence on my face. Part of the year of joy means letting the smile take over even when it’s silly or unprofessional.
As I approached the hill, I cocked my head back and maybe even acknowledged my cheerleaders with a wave.
The only thing about my physical body that had changed was the smile. With the smile came the emotional change that I could do this. With their encouragement, I could say to the mountain ahead of me, “MOVE!” and it did.
Don’t worry, I was still exhausted by the time I made it to the top. But I made it. And I made it the rest of the route and home again.
All with a smile.
Not because I like to run. No, really, I loathe it.
But because some strangers decided to cheer for the skinny kid who was running more slowly than most people walk.
I was the recipient of a random act of kindness.
This is joy.
Let’s pass it on.
When’s the last time you found–or gave–encouragement in an unlikely place?
What are you looking for?