So today I discovered the meaning of true joy. I pushed myself through the front doors of the dreaded gym and decided maybe that monthly fee should be utilized at some point. This is not about the delights of experiencing a runner’s high. I have yet to do that. However, I did enjoy my workout… but not nearly as much as the runner on the treadmill next to me did.
As usual, I put my “all business” face on and made a beeline to the treadmill section. Yes, I was aware that my morning hair was putting Don King’s do to shame, but I figured if I seemed serious about burning calories, this would somehow tame the unruly rooster tails flailing around on top of my head. I began the routine of untangling the knots out of my earphones while at the same time starting up the treadmill – a dangerous adventure, for sure. Eventually, I coordinated my ipod and the treadmill… and my serious face, and began the workout.
About six minutes into my run, I was silently crooning along to some old Billy Joel hits and trying to read Matt Lauer’s lips while he interviewed Penny Marshall on the overhead TVs when I noticed some rather deliberate stomping taking place on the treadmill next to me. I didn’t want to be obvious or rude, but I was curious about this fellow gym mate’s interesting routine. I took a short, quick glance and noticed that the runner was as adult with Down’s Syndrome. I thought to myself, “Wow, he’s really making every step count.” I then politely, continued my workout looking straight forward.
Soon enough, I heard a couple of whoops and “yahoos” to my left – as I continued to worry about my crazy hair bobbing around on the top of my head. Within seconds, I noticed this gentleman’s running legs were now catching a decent amount of air as he was gripping the safety rails and lifting himself and kicking the air to the beat of his ipod music. This was followed up by some clapping and punching of the air. This man was truly enjoying every second of his workout! I looked over at him again to smile in agreement with him, but his eyes were closed. He was no doubt, feeling the rhythms of the next song and setting up for his next moves.
We ran side by side on our treadmills for the next twenty-five minutes. His exuberance continued, and I began to care less and less about my hair. I was struck by his bold enthusiasm and pure happiness. Part of me wanted to yell, “Yeah, uh-huh, look at me running – in my ratty Iowa Hawkeye’s sweatshirt and crazy hair! And my favorite song is on – this is awesome!!” I didn’t. I just finished up, enjoying company next to me.
I don’t think this man ever noticed that I was smiling with him and taking in his enthusiasm. He didn’t need to. He was completely one hundred percent content and happy all on his own. A good lesson for me on a damp, murky, Monday morning. I was feeling so happy, I forgot about my clown hair and marched right into the grocery store. I was doing just fine until I caught my profile in the reflection of the glass freezer doors. I quickly finished my shopping, and speed walked to my car… and who do you think I saw bopping along, still plugged in to his favorite tunes and singing as he walked? That’s right… evidently I needed two lessons on contentment today.