If Not Running, Something

In the summer I often run during the start of rush hour, usually past at least one long line of cars waiting at a red light.  A few days ago I was running in a park near my house, a small stretch on grass close by bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I glanced at the often dead-eyed people in the cars and remembered those mornings when I was stuck in one car among many – still half asleep and vaguely annoyed, impatient to arrive at a destination I honestly wasn’t all that excited about.  I thought of something a recent customer at the running store where I work part-time had said:  “Have you ever seen anyone smile when they’re running?” she asked, laughing, and that old runner’s retort had floated through my head  (do people always smile when they’re making love?), and I thought, well, if I’m going to be a running bodhisattva, I’d better act the part.  I relaxed the expression on my face into a sort of private grin, like I was sharing a happy secret – because I really was enjoying myself; running, even at its most laborious, is always enjoyable to me – and maybe just one person in that seemingly endless line of cars, as sleep-deprived and annoyed as I was years ago, saw me floating gently through the grass, had a flash of kensho and thought “maybe …” And maybe they somehow tried to make the start of their next day a little bit better.  If not running, something.

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