Small Beauties

It’s been months since I wrote anything. And while I have some bigger things in mind, simmering so slowly they put southern BBQ to shame, here’s a glimpse of life’s small beauties.

I was attempting my first run in many months this morning, a rare humidity-free D.C. morning. Nothing hurt, and I felt great. Happy. Proud. Slightly embarrassed to be out running in nothing more than running shorts and a sports bra, but the laundry situation was what it was, and my husband assured me this was fine. (Note to self: husband is not to be trusted.)

As I was doing my last half-mile,* I saw an Ethiopian lady alongside the path, gracefully draped in the lightweight white shawl that is often part of the attire. She was staring straight up at the trees overhead, and as she heard me running, she lowered her head, and I smiled at her. I expected slight discomfort from her, or maybe a gentle rebuff, because I was dressed so immodestly. But no. Maybe it was my smile, who knows, but she beckoned me over, in no uncertain terms.

I went to her side, and she commanded me to stand straight, and look to the sky, and then to breathe in and out in a certain way, and it would bring looseness to the neck and relaxation. When she saw I wasn’t doing it correctly, she said, no, turn your eyes and watch me. I did, and tried again, and felt exactly what she meant. She smiled at me, told me to do that every day, and sent me on my way. I did that last bit of my run with a smile on my face.

We live in a world where that was possible. And what is that if not beautiful?

I confess, I have been having a tough time switching gears from being non-stop productive and useful (see: November through May, and thanks a lot 45 and co.) into summer when, technically, I’m not supposed to be working (and yet somehow was not relaxing). But something has shifted, and I’m starting to see the grace of being a little bit less purposeful, a little bit less driven. Somehow in my mind, that’s all connected with the perfect perfect-stranger reaching out to me on the path. Sometimes stopping your run and stepping off the path is exactly what the universe wants.


* This sounds good until you realize I haven’t told you how long the total run was (one mile).

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