Is it strange to admire a total stranger?
I don't just mean someone you've never met. After all, I never got to shake Gandhi's hand, but I think we can all agree the man deserved some admiration. What I'm talking about, though, is simply seeing someone in one moment in his life and being impressed by that person, knowing nothing else.
If it's possible, then I admire a guy in my neighborhood. A few times now, I've passed him early in the morning as head down a hill through some dark trees. Part of me always wonders what terrors might be lurking beyond the eight inches I can see on either side of the path, but I never expect to see another person that early in the morning, so it surprised me a couple weeks ago to round the corner and find myself on a collision course with another pedestrian. Fortunately, I had enough time to move out of the way, which I did, narrowly avoiding his cane. While I worried about the dangers of twenty feet of trees, here was another man, blind, clearing his own way.
This was impressive, to be sure, but not what actually garnered my admiration. A few days after the first encounter, I was trudging up the hill at the end of my 15-miler, completely exhausted, when I saw another (or was it the same?) man moving along with his red-tipped cane. Only this man was running. Training, even. He was moving far better than I was, heading forward without fear or reservation.
All of this would be outstanding enough, even if I hadn't seen him running in the Austin Marathon last week. There's no way, I thought. No way that I've just happened to see the same guy time and again. So, I took a close look at his face and made a note to remember it, should I ever encounter him again, which is what happened this morning. I had far more notice this time around, and there was no near collision, but without a doubt, it was the same man. I'm impressed.
What can possibly stop someone if this man can forge ahead? I can only imagine the level to which he is in tune with his body, determining how long his stride is, when he might have to turn, and where other runners might lurk without visual cues. I can't even do all of that with my eyes open. I'm fairly certain I couldn't stay on a treadmill with a blindfold for more than a few seconds, and here's a guy who is doing marathons with a cane in his hand. The greatest of oppositions can breed the greatest of heroes.
So what could possibly stop me?
59 degrees, yet surprisingly cold