I was out running on the trails near my house one warm and sunny Saturday morning. I was feeling good, both physically and mentally. As I looked down the path ahead of me, I noticed another runner coming towards me. As he came upon me, I looked into his eyes and acknowledge him with a nod (a common gesture amongst runners). But the man passed with a scowl on his face, ignoring me as if I was never there. Although not a big deal, I found myself wondering why people seem to be less and less friendly these days. Isn't returning an acknowledgement the polite thing to do? I mean, really, how much effort does it take to nod back?
I continued running down the path, still thinking about the man who just passed by. After a few minutes, I came to the conclusion that I'll only disappoint myself if I keep expecting something in return when I initiate a greeting with fellow runners. In fact, why even waste my time.
Moments later I spotted another runner coming towards me on the path. Still bugged from the unfriendliness of the last runner, I decided to keep my eyes towards the ground, avoiding any kind of greeting with her. Then, just as our paths crossed, I heard a very friendly "Hi” and caught a welcoming smile as she passed by me. I immediately threw out a “Hi” back but to no avail…she was too far away to hear it.
Just then it hit me…I had allowed the first runner to dictate my friendliness (or lack there-of) towards the second runner. In other words, my friendliness was contingent upon getting friendliness back. Pretty sad!
I then asked myself if I could simply acknowledge other runners without expecting something in return? Could I just be friendly because that is who I am…period? Of course I could…isn’t that’s what being authentic is all about?
Being authentic means being true to ourselves and being ourselves…instead of trying to be what everyone else wants us to be. I know that! I teach that! Yet I somehow lost sight of it. My bad!
Of course it’s easy to stay the course when life is good and everything is working…but the real test of our resolve to be who we are comes during challenging and difficult time.
This little jogging story was a gentle reminder to me that I was a bit off course, so to speak. I’m grateful for life’s lessons…regardless how they come to me.