Why…?

Six months ago, I never thought about running. Then I gave it a try, ran my first 5k, kept running, signed up for a 10k, volunteered at a 16k and suddenly, before I knew it, I started feeling like I was part of a new community — a community of good-hearted, encouraging, healthy, life-loving people. People who give you a smile or a wave as they pass you on a trail. People who congratulate you on a good race even though they just ran that same race in half the time. I started to fall in love.

This morning at work I watched the Boston Marathon for the first time in my life. I jumped up from my chair cheering as Rita Jeptoo and Lelisa Desisa Benti crossed the finished line. I felt amazed and energized by the athleticism and determination of all the runners, and the cheering of the crowd along the route. The world was beautiful. I tweeted: “Feeling so inspired by all the #bostonmarathon runners today. Can’t wait to get my shoes and run my heart out tonight!!” 

A few short hours later, after a long meeting, I read a text: “I just heard about the explosions at the Boston Marathon.”  I couldn’t believe it. That can’t be right. Why would anyone want to hurt runners? Why would anyone want to ruin this tremendous celebration of life and health? Why…? How….?

I cried, and then I ran, longer than I’ve ever run before. With every step, I thought of those in the race who put all their hearts into a day that was taken from them. I thought of those who will never get to walk or run again. I thought about how on days like today it’s so hard to make sense of the world we live in. And I thought about how I need to remember to be grateful for every step I get to take in this world.

Dear Boston, you are in my thoughts and in my heart. Wishing you great strength and love in this dark time. xo

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Faith in Humanity: Restored

There are many, many days when, for any number of reasons, I find myself grumbling “I hate people.” Yesterday was not one of those days. Yesterday was a beautiful day that glowed brightly with love. Yesterday the universe wrapped its big strong arms around me and enveloped me in a long warm hug until I was bursting with happiness.

It started with a fantastic 7.5k mid-day run. The sun was shining, the trail was clear of puddles, and everyone I passed seemed to be at peace. I felt so lucky to be out there with them, enjoying the special gift of a perfect, sunny, warm April afternoon.

After my run, I quickly washed up and headed to the Passport Office where, after jumping through many hoops over the last week, I was finally ready to submit my son’s passport application. Still beaming with bliss, I stepped up to the counter, slid over the application, and then stared with complete lack of comprehension as the woman told me she couldn’t accept the application because the signature on my son’s I.D. didn’t match the signature on the application.

“He’s a teenager, he changes his signature every 6 months! How am I going to find a government-issued I.D. with the exact same signature?”

“Well then we’re going to need him to come in and sign the application in front of us.”

Easier said than done, considering we live in different towns, the Passport Office is an hour way, and we’re supposed to be on an airplane in just 3 weeks. I asked if I could get him to take a picture of I.D. and email it to me. Would they accept that?

Her response: “I can’t speak for the others, but I wouldn’t.”

My shoulders slumped, I shrugged and said, “Well, I had planned to spend the afternoon here anyway. I guess I’ll just wait and give it a shot. I have nothing to lose.”

I stepped out of the room, called my son to examine all his I.D., and then waited as he texted me photos of his health card on which the signature, while not a perfect match, at least somewhat resembled his latest signature. I looked up at the number ticker in the waiting room: A081. My number: A084.

Suddenly I had a thought: they accept photocopies of I.D. If I could just find a way to turn this digital file into a hard copy, maybe I could get this application through after all.

I scurried to the security guard: “Is there anywhere in this building that I could print an email?”

“Weeeell, there’s a woman downstairs in a passport photo store. I don’t know if she’d do it, but you could try.”

I will try ANYTHING. I thanked him and ran downstairs.

“Hi, is there any way you could print an email for me?”

She looked me over. “It’ll cost you.”

“That’s fine, I don’t care.”

She stepped aside, giving me full access to her desktop computer. YES! In a few short minutes, I had printed out the semi-blurry photos, asked her what I owed her to which she replied, “Just go back up to the Passport Office. If they accept the application, come back and pay me $2. If they don’t, don’t worry about it.”

I looked at her in disbelief. Really??!

“Yes, go, I trust you.”

Wow, when is the last time you heard that from a stranger?

I ran upstairs. A083. I took a deep breath. When my number came up, I walked to the counter calmly as if there was no reason to believe there would be any problem whatsoever with the application I was submitting. The woman (different from the last one) quietly looked through the papers and pulled aside the printout of the health card. I held my breath. She looked up at me.

“Are you the guarantor?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll need you to sign this page and date it.”

“OK.”

I signed it, dated it, and passed it back without taking a breath. In fact, I don’t think I took another breath until all the papers were stamped and signed and she said to me, “OK, you’re all set.” Bliss restored!

I ran back down to the little store to pay for my printout. As I pulled out my wallet, my kind stranger said, “Put that away.”

Once again, I looked at her in disbelief. “No, you’ve already done so much. You saved my day. Please let me pay. I don’t mind.”

She smiled and replied, “I believe when someone is going through a hard time, we need to do what we can to make it easier for them, not harder. Keep your money, and just say a little prayer for me tonight. My name is Jasmin.”

Well, Jasmin, I would just like to say thank you for single-handedly restoring my faith in humanity. I was beaming all evening, and woke up this morning still loving the world. I will do my best to be somebody’s Jasmin today, tomorrow, and the next day. You make this world a better place. Thank you, thank you, thank you!