It was just an ordinary run. Setting off with a group of friends, I left the school grounds and headed toward a familiar forest trail. It was a route we ran often.
We started the stopwatch and took off. The fastest among us were soon well out of sight. I settled into my rhythm.
As I neared the midway point, my thoughts wandered. I started wondering why I was running and not sitting back in my dorm room with a good book. My legs hurt. My breathing was heavy. Instead of paying attention to the beautiful scenery of the forest, I was wishing its hills were a bit flatter.
But then someone flashed past me, disrupting my thoughts. He wasn’t part of our group. I’d never seen him before. He was running quickly.
“I wonder what he’s up to?” I thought as he disappeared around the next bend in the trail. “He must be in a hurry to get somewhere.”
I didn’t think too long on it though. My body was still tired. I had a good bit of distance left to cover. And he was just some guy in the forest.
So I pushed on.
go on further
around the bend you will find
As I neared the end of the run, I saw that same man talking to the other people in the our group. I learned some of his story.
It turned out he wasn’t just someone in a hurry to get somewhere. He was an athlete. And not only was he an athlete, he was an elite athlete. He raced for the Kenyan national team in the Olympics and other competitions. He was one of the top runners in Africa for his distance.
His story was so much more than I had imagined.
running far too fast
the world around us a blur
slow down, see beauty
I wonder sometimes. As I wander my neighborhood, ride the bus, or travel in distant countries, who are the people I pass by? What are their stories?
Maybe the guy jogging in the park near my home runs a business that generates millions of dollars in value each year and gives work and stability to dozens of families.
Maybe the cashier at the grocery store is a single parent who, despite all the challenges thrown at her, manages to pay the rent, put food on the table, and take care of her son.
Maybe the woman reading a book next to me on the train is a university professor and is considered one of the leading thinkers in her field.
Maybe the man crossing the intersection volunteers his free time to help young men on the streets feel appreciated and valued.
Maybe the woman asking for change downtown had been, a few days before, the pride of her entire family – living on her own, living in the big city, living the dream – only to see it all crash down with the bankruptcy of her employer.
Often, a person’s story is so much more than we imagine it to be. The caricature we form in our heads doesn’t capture the full picture.
What if we took a second or two to marvel – to consider that there is more to each person than we can possibly recognize in a single glance?
Just maybe, we could catch a glimpse of the beauty in those around us. And just maybe, we could let that beauty color the way we treat them – approaching others with an attitude of respect and fascination.