On my way to drop my husband off at work this morning, I saw a runner headed up the steep-ish hill of Capitol Street, and he was moving along at a pretty good clip. I was impressed… and a little jealous. Since becoming a person who is in decent physical condition (meaning I am now at a “healthy” BMI and enjoy clean eating and being active), I have always wished I could run. But I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was in third grade, and enough damage has been done to my knees that running, as fun as it is for me, results in debilitating joint pain the next day. Low impact exercise is the way to go for this kid. But I digress.
My thoughts as I watched the man run up the hill were something along the lines of Running looks like so much fun. Maybe I should try it again one of these days. And then something happened.
I dropped my husband off at his place of employment at the top of Capitol Street, and as I was on my way back down the hill, the runner was just nearing the top. As he crossed the intersection of Capitol and one of the side streets, an older woman, not having seen the speedy pedestrian, rolled through her stop sign and began to turn right onto Capitol Street, only narrowly missing the man. If he had not literally leaped over the corner of this woman’s hood, she would have hit him. My heart stopped.
Every once in a while, a ripple from someone else’s wave reaches us, reminding us of our temporariness on this earth. The near miss to which I was witness this morning was certainly not the first time that I have been made acutely aware of my unknown number of remaining days. My own dear dad is a leukemia survivor! One would think that such an enormously scary life event would cause the truth of our fleeting presence to stay forefront in my mind. But, honestly, it is easy to forget. It is easy to wake up in the morning and wait, wait for the next thing, the next phase of life, the next bracket of twenty-four hours to come and give me a chance to accomplish the things I am setting aside today.
But I’m not promised a tomorrow. Are you?
Now, short of a miracle (of which I am surely a believer!) or an extremely expensive knee surgery, I am not going to take up running. It would not be physically possible for me. But that’s not really what got me thinking.
What got me thinking was the fact that that man, unbeknownst to him, might have kissed his family goodbye for the last time this morning when he left for his run. He obviously isn’t procrastinating in the health and fitness department, but what other dreams/projects/hopes/ideas in his life might be shelved right now, under the assumption that a more convenient moment will come along? What things am I waiting for? What is left undone? Unsaid?
Want to become a runner? Climb a mountain? Give up smoking? Do it today. Want to write a book? Learn how to paint? Start talking to God? Do it today. Have someone you want to reconnect with? Apologize to? Thank? Tell them you love them? Do it today.
None of us are promised a tomorrow. We know that. Let’s take a lesson from the runner on Capitol Street, and remember.