Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gratitude

Sunday, while I was out on my long run, I encountered an amputee headed east along Benjamin Holt.  He was wearing shabby clothes and was using his remaining leg to pull himself along in his wheelchair.  As I approached him, I attempted to make eye contact and say "Good morning".  However, he clearly wished to avoid me and looked down at the ground as I ran by him.  At that moment I was overwhelmed with a sense  gratitude and fought to keep the tears from coming.

I immediately stopped cursing my tired legs and thanked God for what I was able to do.   No, I am not an elite athlete, but I am able bodied.  I have two legs that allow me to run and bike and swim. Yes, other athletes, may be stronger or faster, but I cannot focus on that.  I need to focus on my blessings and I need to be grateful for every step...every slow step, every painful step, EVERY step!

I continued on my run, completed the loop around Embarcadero, and headed back home along Benjamin Holt. A red light stopped me at the Plymouth intersection.  As I stood there enjoying my break, I noticed a young girl staring at me from the backseat of her mom's car. Next to her was a baby in a car seat.  I waved and smiled at the girl and she waved back as her mom pulled away. Once again, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

The car the girl was riding in was very old and missing a hub cab.  If I had to guess, I would say that I probably spent more money buying my used triathlon bike than the car was worth.  A purchase that I often think I should have spent more money on!  Talk about a reality check. How fortunate am I that I am able to buy a THIRD bicycle??? Once again I fought back the tears, wondering what was wrong with me.  Were hormones getting the best of me? Was I fatigued from over-training? Or, was I truly overwhelmed by gratitude?

I thought about this the rest of the way home and considered a blog entry on the subject.  At the end of the day, I just couldn't think of what I wanted to say and decided that this was a subject I would keep to myself.  In fact, I didn't even tell Mike about my experience...I guess I didn't want him to know that his wife was running up and down Ben Holt crying.

A Day to Think About It

I guess God gave me a day to think about it, but Monday came and went and I still didn't feel like writing about gratitude.  Honestly, I don't feel qualified to write about it because sometimes I don't feel like I'm grateful at all! Or at least not nearly as grateful as I should be.  I feel like I take so much for granted...my health, my abilities, my bikes, my job...you name it.

Anyway, Tuesday morning, Mike posted on Facebook "Things we take for granted.  Some times we just don't realize how lucky we are." Where did that come from??? In that post, he had a link to a video by Martina McBride called "God's Will".  I watched the video and immediately started crying (this time at work, not along Ben Holt).  The song tells a story of a young boy with braces on his legs.  This song got me thinking about the man in the wheelchair and the girl in the back of the car again.

Once again, I kicked around the idea of how to write about gratitude.  About being grateful for even being able to attempt a triathlon.  Once again, I decided that this wasn't a topic for me.

Third Time's a Charm

Hoyt statue as it's unpacked
This morning, as I was getting ready for work, a story came on Fox News that stopped me in my tracks.  It wasn't an unfamiliar story.  It was the story of the Hoyt's, the father and son team that has competed in numerous marathons and triathlons.  Because the son, Rick, was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, the father pushes him in a special wheelchair through all of the races.  This month they will be honored at the Boston Marathon with a bronze statue commemorating their incredible journey. 

If you have never heard of the Hoyt's, their racing journey began in 1977 when Rick "told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a lacrosse player how had been paralyzed in an accident".  After completing the race, Rick told his father, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped." 

Here are two people who could understandably be ungrateful for their situation, but they are not.  They have made the most of their situation and as a result have changed hundred if not thousands of lives.  Just like the boy in Martina McBride's sone, Rick Hoyt thinks beyond himself and his circumstances.  He is not consumed with what he cannot do.  He goes out and races with his father, and together they do the best they can do.

Truly Grateful

These last few days have really given me a chance to think about gratitude.  I am now making an effort to be more grateful...a LOT more grateful.  I have so many people and things in my life to be grateful for that I feel stupid admitting that I am often ungrateful.  I promise to change this.