The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers: Part III

Spring has finally sprung here in northern Illinois, and I have replaced my winter treadmill walks with walking outdoors. This morning, as I started the last leg of my circuit, I passed a woman walking a golden retriever. The dog looked familiar, but I don't think I've ever seen her before. We smiled and she asked, "Are you practicing for next week's 5K?"

My first thought was, There's a 5K next week? I told her I was just out enjoying the sun--which was entirely true.

Her question surprised me. Of all the things someone might assume about me based on my appearance, participating in a 5K is not near the top of the list. I'm not sure it's even ON the list. Yet that was the conclusion this complete stranger chose to draw.

The more I thought about it, the better I felt--in general and about myself. I've had a rough couple of weeks. I've been overwhelmed with work and have forgone many of my daily self-care rituals. Dishes piled up in the sink; laundry spilled out of my closet; walks didn't happen; my journal stayed closed. All that had left me feeling kind of down.

This woman's question turned all that around. I look capable of a completing a 5K?*** I must be taking better care of myself than I thought. I must be more able than I'm feeling.

So thank you, ma'am, for brightening the day of a complete stranger.



***In the interest of full disclosure, I am capable of completing a 5K. I did so 2 1/2 years ago, when I weighed more and was less fit than I am now. I wrote about the experience on my old blog, Getting There, here and here.