So I'm on my third long run in four days during last week's vaycay in Greensboro, N.C., when it happens.
I round a turn on a paved bike path during the steamy morning when I see this little sweat-drenched kid running with the most determined look on his face, completely lost in his own world of effort. I'm guessing 7 or 8, about the same age as our Ben. Close behind, on a mountain bike, and ever-watchful comes his dad. Neither seems to notice me as we pass.
About 15 minutes later I come to the end of the path, then decide to do a bit of exploring through the ritzy subdivision by hopping out on the street. Up a short steep hill I go, then turn around to walk down when my watch beeps to signal a walk break.
As I'm walking down, up comes the kid. This time I get a better look and notice the slightly out-of-kilter gait and then the Special Olympics T-shirt. Still lost in the effort but starting to fade a bit on the pace, up the hill he heads. This time, I clap a couple times and give him a "good job, dude; relax and drive those arms on this hill."
The smile I got and the quiet fist pump from his dad gave me goosebumps. Such vast thanks from such a simple act. Then I spent the final 40 minutes of the run awash in gratitude for how easy my life is and how fortunate I am to have all the blessings that I have.
I had planned on driving into downtown Greensboro to run that morning, but at the last minute changed my mind. Sometimes, the best lesson you could hope for is just around that next corner.