There are several beautiful gardens that are lovingly cared for along one of my running routes. Tonight as I approached one of my favorites, its elderly gardener was pulling his trash can to the curb. When he sent a smile my way, I nodded towards his yard and said, “Your flowers!” – which was all I could muster having just finished a hill and still trying to suck in air. But he dismissed me with a wave and pointed back at me: “Your running.” I laughed and replied, “Your flowers are beautiful.” “So are you, dear,” he said.
I wanted to cry. I know that physically I was anything but beautiful. Red-faced, sweaty, messy, gasping for air, slow…I’m not a pretty runner. Besides, I wasn’t close enough for him to see me very well anyway. But I think he was referring to something bigger. I think that he was appreciating how hard I was trying — and I could’ve hugged him for it. Training for runs can be a lonely endeavor and is totally self-motivated. To have a stranger recognize my effort was a little life gift exactly when I needed it.
I have a pretty good idea why this elderly man’s garden prospers under his watch.