It had been raining all morning. I had planned a Mt. bike ride with my son, but knowing that the trails would be muddy set me on a different course. Swimming didn’t sound fun in the rain, then my husband reminded me that I could go to the gym to get my workout in. Can I just say that I hate the gym for multiple reasons. Running or biking in place bores me to death, and the air, don’t get me even started on the thick stifling air. On top of all of that gyms are so triggering for me because of the betrayal I have faced, that I thought I would rather run in the rain.
I put on a rain jacket and was off, headed to legacy trail. I noticed alot of things while I ran, the first was that for the first 45 minutes I did not see one adult, but I saw 25-30 youth out running in the rain. They were friendly as they passed, in t-shirts and running shorts, they seemed not even phased by the chill in the air, or the damp conditions.
As I ran father I noticed several little round objects on the trail ahead of me, as I grew near I noticed that they were snails on the trail. I carefully maneuvered my way through them without stepping on any and continued on my way. Certain areas of the trail were free from the little guys slowly slithering across, and other areas had many, I continued to run not thinking much about them.
Later as I noticed more, I could see that the groups of young runners had not been as careful or had not noticed the snails and many were smooshed, dead on the asphalt. I pondered the snails feeling like there was some lesson to be learned by their presence.
I began thinking about life, and how life is hard. I thought of the slow movements of the snails thinking about how my progress at times feels so slow and monotonous. Sometimes I wonder if I have made any progress at all. I imagined myself as a snail for a moment, how scary it would be to have the packs of runners make their way past if I was so tiny. I could felt the powerlessness of the snails as they slithered across the trail, their lives in the hands of what would be giants to them. They can’t move quickly to get out of the way, they just have to hope they get missed every time trampling feet are headed their way.
I could think of all the many times I have been stuck in a trial. All the times I have held my breath wanting the pain to pass me by, even sometimes just hoping I would get mushed and it would be over. I have felt small and I have felt like my life was at the mercy of others who didn’t care about me. I could imagine myself cowering each time a group of runners went by…holding my breath that I would survive the heavy feet all around me. My anxiety perked with the powerlessness of it all.
As I neared the end of my run I came around a turn and saw the first adult of the morning, and the sight of him brought tears to my eyes. He was an older gentleman in nice clothes holding a black umbrella. As I made my way toward him I noticed that he was zig zagging back and forth across the trail and every few feet he would stop, bend over, and pick up a snail. He gently moved them to the side of the trail over and over again.
My entire run I had been concerned for the snails, but not once did I stop to move them off the trail, I just dodged them. As I got near to him, I wanted to stop and help. I guess I was a little embarrassed that I had not thought about helping the little creatures before, or I didn’t want him to feel like I was copying him, regardless I did not bend over to help. As I approached I stopped to ask if he knew why they came up onto the pavement. He said, “I guess they like to have some fun too, but they get all smashed up here.” He looked at me from underneath his black hat, and I could see the kindness in his eyes, and the smile under his grey beard. I thanked him for giving me something to think about, sometimes just stop to help. He said, “Well, it will make me a little late for work, but that is okay.” He made his way past me with his zig zag pattern saving the snails.
I took ten steps farther, and turned around. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to stop and help a snail. I hoped that he had saved me one as the trail was looking bare. Then I saw one, I quickly walked over, picked it up and moved it to the side of the trail.
Sometimes in life I will be the snail who is making my way slowly to my destination surrounded by obsticles trying to stop my journey and progress.
Other times I will be stuck in my own head moving forward, but just dodging others, not actually helping.
And in quiet moments when my life is calm I can slow down….see the others around me who are in struggle, and go out of my way to zig zag on the trail to help….even if I am late for work. This is the person I am striving to become all of the time.