You know how sometimes you get a lesson that stops you in your tracks and sucker punches you?
I had one like that this morning. I was out jogging with the pup as usual, getting back into the spring/summer habit of doing 5ish KM on the farm (the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa; that's a real working farm and research centre - plus museum - right in the middle of the city, and I live right by it lucky me) instead of the 3.5-4ish sidewalk blah business I get by on during the winter. The snow and muck are finally off the farm paths and it's once again pleasant to run there.
Except for the part where I'm still recovering from that flu, and my back, one shoulder and one knee are bugging me. I think in good part due to exercising and competing (and reno work at home) while trying to recover from said flu. The sun is out this morning and it's crisp and cool but not unpleasant, yet here's Brigitte wallowing in self-pity and griping that the pace is too slow and what a loser to think this is a run worthy of the name and yadda blahdeby pfft.
Fortunately for my soul, while this pity party is going on I'm also listening to a great podcast, a conversation between Tim Ferriss and Cory Booker (the politician). At some point Booker describes moving into a poor neighbourhood in New Jersey (at that point he was studying law at Yale) and going to a local person by the name of Victoria Jones and professing that he was there to help her. She took him outside and asked him to describe what he saw. He said something about drugs and poverty and so on, and she told him no thanks buddy, you can't help me. See, what you see on the outside of you is a reflection of what's inside you, she told him, and something something after that I don't remember.
Because I had stopped running, trying to catch my breath. That lady, whose words only came to me through a politician on a radio podcast, reached out through the space-time continuum and hit me square in the gut. But in a good way.
Her words crystallized for me a lot of issues I'd been thinking about these past 2-3 years about my time in politics and why I now think a lot of it was horribly misguided at best (I have a book brewing inside me about that) and suddenly I could see it. There was a big giant hallelujah only I could hear, and I was able to move on with my slow (but now happier) jog.
About 15 minutes later I see this guy with a bike leaned against a tree. He's doing some tai chi or other and then he stares down the path and starts running. Or rather, wobbling. He's not going fast at all, but you can tell for him that's sprinting. He does about 50 feet then walks slowly back to his bike. A minute or two later he's back at the tai chi and when I look at him again before turning on the path that takes me home, he's doing another sprint.
There are a lot of things I could see in that guy. But right there on the spot I make a conscious choice to see hope and beauty. He's doing what he can to make himself better, and that is the best any one of us can do. This guy is doing more with his 12-second wobble to make the world a better place than most righteous-sounding moralizers do in a week. I give him a giant smile he can't possibly see, and move on.
I am going to bet that it's true, what the lady said. That what you see outside of you is a reflection of what is inside you. And I'll take this one step further and bet that if I purposefully decide to see beautiful things on the outside of me, that it will help me have more beautiful things inside of me. It can't be an easy thing to do all the time, but what else am I here for if not try to make myself better?