The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen
Sometimes you are standing outside when the storm hits. Sometimes you see it coming, sometimes you knew it was coming, and sometimes you just feel it coming. The wind picks up. The temperature goes down. The preemptive drops of rain tell you it’s time, but you ignore it since only one touched your arm. It’s easy to ignore the storm when it’s only one raindrop must have mistakenly found its way to the crease of your elbow. Then, when one raindrop turns to hundreds, you can’t ignore it any longer.The crease of your elbow drips and your hair sticks to your face and your shoes start to squish. The subtle warnings of those first fallen drops prove not to be empty threats as you wished.
On the track of the Santa Fe Indian School, I heard the wind pick up. I felt the temperature drop. Lightning over Atalaya Mountain proved that I was going to have squishy shoes and sticky hair sooner rather than later.
But I was on the track. And I wasn’t ready to leave.
After exactly 92 days, I had done lunges. My legs stretched as my knees bent, and straightened, and pushed against the weight of myself. I had been pushing against the weight of myself for a long time–angry that I had 11 new pieces of metal constructing my ankle. Preventing me from moving in a way that was almost the only way I knew how–quickly and with a purpose. Running.
Now, 92 days later, I pedaled my feet backwards. I jogged and pretended that there was no limp. My feet crossed and pivoted and swung as I did the “grapevine.” The doctor said I was healed, but it still hurt. But I did not want it to hurt. And I did not want it to rain.
But with that one raindrop and with that one unsettled step, I didn’t get what I wanted. Instead, I got something that I did not realize I needed.
It hurt. I stopped and I looked up. The sky spun and the clouds got dark.
It was going to hurt and it was going to rain.
All those days that I had to imagine finally getting back onto the track to run again, I envisioned just taking off and sprinting, like nothing had ever happened or gone wrong. Just like when you envision your perfect day, it most likely does not involve getting trapped out in the elements of a summer desert thunderstorm. But what we envision is always the final product–we tend to forget the work in between and the fact that the rain is what makes the green grass of our perfect fantasy day a reality.
When I looked up, all I could think about was how far I had to go. How many lunges, how many painful steps? How many raindrops would hit me before I finally found shelter?
But it never gets easier, you just get better.
So when the downpour began and I couldn’t ignore it anymore, I half-jogged, half-limped to the car.
And I felt all the better for it.