Can you see the magic in this picture?
I went for an easy run today, a gentle recovery run after a strenuous HIIT session yesterday.
I ran listening to Thich Nhat Thanh’s podcast ‘The Way Out Is In.’ As I turned the corner to this road, I paused. My mind was not on the run. I was already thinking of all the things to do today. Things that I wish I didn’t have to do at all.
I paused, irritated with myself, looked ahead, and took in this road as the Buddhist monks spoke in the background. It’s entirely nondescript, this road. The sort of road you will find in many a city or town in India. There’s nothing on this potholed road, I thought. Why was I even running here? I stood there, irritated, glancing at my Garmin, which showed that my supposedly easy run had been way faster than it should have been. I was frustrated. I had delayed a deliverable due to a client because the webinar stream was buffering. I had delayed sending a business pitch deck to an interested potential partner because I didn’t want to sit down and revise it. I had been lazy, languid, and just utterly unproductive.
I took in the road ahead of me. It looked like my life. A potholed mess of nothingness. And then, I looked again.
Slowly, the green of the Gulmohar sashayed into view. The potholes grinned. Gravel. Sand. Stone. An old, faded tire smiled by the side. I drank this scene, hungrily, greedily. I resolved to run loops around this road for the rest of the run. Every time I came around to this spot, I would look afresh to see what I could spot new.
I must have run some 11 loops by the end of the short 7 km run. And you know what? Every time, I did notice something different. Something new. Something old but fresh. Something finite but infinite in our minds. The black and white lettering on the house. A woman waiting with her child for the school van. Blue bag of books. The brown of a car. The grey of an infinite deity. A rickshaw trundling past. Empty, forlorn, abandoned carton boxes.
What was nondescript was no longer that. It had changed before my eyes – only because I chose to see.
I thought then that this is how I view my life too. I think of my life as a mundane rush of everyday busyness. Work. Play. Sleep. Repeat. There’s nothing extraordinary here, I think. My life is nondescript. I have seen it all, this tired road of old dead hurts, pains, and seemingly impossible dreams.
Yet, just like this road, there’s nothing ordinary about our nondescript lives. The old tire of marooned memories was still beautiful. The potholes of lost hurts were still lovely. That the debris, the dirt, colors, and chaos had coalesced into rich experiences, brimming with care if I would only look.
I had run so many careless loops in life. But as I finished my run, I realized I could run this road of life again and see it differently.
You see the magic in this road now? It’s hope. It’s utterly nondescript hope.
May you find your hope today.