I see you. Lately, I see you often. I am here, running behind you. Even though you never acknowledge me. I know you hear me. I know you can see me from the corner of your darting eyes. You cross the street, as far away as you can get from me, every time you feel I am too near.
You won’t look up.
You are running. Even though I am certain you don’t believe that you are. In fact, I know you don’t believe it. There you are, looking straight down at your feet, willing them to move faster. They are not being compliant. Your stride lacks confidence. You are unsure. Your legs are not as strong as you would like them to be and it is bothering you. It’s bothering you immensely. You are frustrated. I can see it. You shuffle along, huffing and puffing, in a four sizes too large cotton T-shirt, that hangs limp, well past your knees. You are a shadow of your former self. This much I can clearly see. You are struggling. You walk. You run. You walk again. You slap your thighs in disgust. Defeated. You can see me. You can hear me. Yet, you cross the street. Again.
You run from mailbox to mailbox at first, stopping short when you reach the second as if you’ve run right smack into an imaginary wall. You stop dead in your tracks. Spent. Your ponytail flops forward over your face. You exhale. Frustrated, but not thwarted. You start again. I smile at you.
You can’t see it because you won’t look up.
Telephone pole to telephone pole. First two. Then three…You keep at it. Pole by pole. I slow my pace and I watch you. You’re up to 3 poles before you slow, out of breath. Only this time, you don’t stop. You keep moving. Forward.
And if you would look up?
You would see me running along behind you, cheering you on. I am proud of you, my Stranger Neighbor in the Too Huge Tee. I am rooting for you. Christ. I WAS you. Running from pole to pole, house to house. A half mile. A mile. A 5k. And so on… You are stronger! Your strides more confident! You are progressing! And isn’t that wonderful?! You ARE a runner- just as much of a runner as you think I am. We all have to start somewhere. And I will never forget where I started. Ever. Thank you for reminding me. It takes more courage to start, than to finish. You are so very brave. Someday, You will be Me, The Runner You Think I Am, zipping along and you will spot someone, Starting. They will stop short, and crash into the imaginary wall that exists only in their mind. Just like you did.
Only when it happens, I hope you are looking right at them. And cheering away.