I am on this 'running' craze. I never in my life thought I would choose running as an exercise means. I thought it would be more cycling or swimming. But I now find myself addicted to my morning runs with some encouraging music and some silence to run my thoughts into.
But there has been this nagging thought in my head even as I run everyday. It's a thought that was put into my head a few years ago by my stitching teacher. About 3-4 years ago when I was on the cycling move, she genuinely showed her concern by saying ' Rohini, you are a young woman and these roads very lonely. Please be careful.' While the bones did not feel 'young', the road certainly seemed lonelier after that conversation.
A few months ago when I started my early morning runs, it was peak of winter. The roads are lonely when the weather is that chilly in the morning. I started to note a routine. A few people. Strangers ... and yet ... not really!
One morning as I was running down my lonely path, I was suddenly aware of no one around. As I slowed down, I saw a distant figure, a bald head. The person was walking toward me. I smiled and picked up my pace. This is stranger #1. As we crossed paths, he tightened his grip around the leash of his German Shepherd and smiled. 'Good morning' he called out across the road. I waved back. I felt safe. I have been seeing him across the road now every day for the last 6 months. No introductions needed. We are just strangers in this world. We smile and walk past as we go on with our life.
I see a distant figure, and I quicken my pace, I know the colors, the bright pink tee and purple leopard print pants. I try to catch up. But boy! She is fast. Actually she runs a steady pace. This is stranger #2. Maybe a 50 something lady who has taught me the value of pace while running. As I just manage to pass her with a quick sprint, I smile and wave. She waves back. About 5 minutes later, as she maintains her pace and I have lost my breath from the quick sprint, she smiles and waves again and passes me!
The arms move as if independent from the body. Suresh calls him the Cholestrol man as he walks swinging his arms wildly. You would think that you can race him since he is just walking. But he has a fast walk going! This is stranger #3. He smiles across the road even as he cannot raise his hands and wave considering he may ruin his rhythmic arm movement.
The above three have become my close walking buddies. No no - I dont walk or run with them. But when I see them walk by, it reminds me of several things. Perseverance, discipline, health and above all safety in the midst of these folks, whose names I do not know. I see several people from my own community as I run but somehow, I find it easier to smile at these strangers.