I want you to think back to the last time you did some exercise outdoors, especially if you’re a runner. Do you remember the mood of the sky above you? The weather surrounding you? The people who were out there in the elements with you? Do you remember feeling your muscles warm up and your skin begin to dampen with effort? Do you recall the rush as you triumphed over tired muscles and the desire to quit? Did you feel GREAT afterwards?
Now imagine where you were when you were exercising.
Bring to mind the scenery you passed by. The faces of others as their lives continued parallel to yours. Were there any signs of nature? Did you register the way the light and colour and shadow of your surroundings could be familiar right up to the point where you thought about it, and noticed, and how your mind could get caught on tiny things like a dog chasing a ball, or a child doing something silly, or a situation which had been mulling over in your brain?
Now close your eyes, and imagine your world without that exercise, because you’re blind, and it wouldn’t be safe or possible.
I tried it tonight, cycling home quite late, on an empty road, and I was scared. I could only keep my eyes shut for a few seconds at a time because as soon as I closed them, in my mind’s eye, the road shrunk around me and my wheel turned itself to aim at the next possible hazard, and cars suddenly appeared from nowhere and were about to run me over…it was horrible.
Try it, next time you’re (safe to, whilst) exercising. See how different the experience.
You wouldn’t be able to keep it up, I suspect. I know I couldn’t.
We would miss the change in seasons, from skin crisping in the summer sun, through the gentle tang of woodsmoke getting caught in our hair, to the crunch of frost underfoot, to the soft, insistent rain bringing forth new life from the soil which smells of growing things. We would miss the camaraderie of others who exercise alongside us. We would miss the familiar sights along our route, which let us know we’re nearly there.
Our muscles would be wasted.
Or we might be fortunate enough to have a friend like the one I saw recently.
I was cycling to boxing one evening, across a large park in my city called The Common (formerly common grazing ground, now dedicated to green space, woods, lakes and leisure) and I saw a torch flashing up ahead. Nothing unusual about that – there are often
nutters runners who prefer to go in the dark. More space, perhaps.
As I pedalled closer, out of the night appeared not one, but TWO runners.
Two men, both in full running gear, tied together with a rope loosely looped around the wrists of the hands nearest each other.
And the guy with the torch, waving it so he could see, was calling out the bumps and curves of the pathway to his friend, to whom the lack of light didn’t matter, because his world is likely always dark.
I am thrilled and astonished to find myself at the hub of the movement ‘1000 Voices for Compassion’. I’m going to run a series of posts in the run-up to The Big Day, whenever I see an example of compassion in action, and I’m going to share it with you.Partly because compassion takes all forms, but all forms of compassion are active, and partly because even if they never know it, the people who I feature are worthy of lauding.
Join us on twitter, using the hashtag #1000Speak
Join us on Facebook, in the group where we’re prepping everything ready to happen HUGE on 20/02
Join us over at the 1000Speak blog, where you can submit your own stories for publication on that date if you’re not a blogger or you don’t want the piece on your site.
Join your voice to ours, in whatever way.
Together we’re stronger.