Most people don’t go for a run with the intent to change the world. You can though. I do.
For me, running is not a choice. It’s about disciplining myself to do what needs to be done. And besides, as much as I do not love running, I have never been pissed off at myself for having gone on a run. Something I cannot say about some of my other habits.
So, since I value discipline, I run. And as I run on my section of Peachtree Road, I have a second discipline I practice:
I smile and greet every single person I pass: the guys in the hardhats, the gang members, the security guards, the valets, the tourists, the construction workers, the people leaving church. In fact, I smile the entire time I am running.
I am even friendlier to tourists and to people coming from church. I want Tourists to tell folks back home how amazingly friendly Atlanta is. I want to see if the church people are actually friendlier because, church.
At the crosswalk, when I’m waiting for the White-Light guy to tell me it is safe to cross the street, I smile at the people in the stopped cars as if to say hello to them. Sometimes, I wave and do a little finger point at a pretend driver, as if a driver had actually waived at me first. I do this hoping that it becomes a thing for strangers to be friendly.
And I’ve been known to dance a bit standing at the cross walk. I don’t really dance, but a tapping toe and a head bob, as if to say Happy World while I wait for the light to change.
I get a few smiles over the three-mile course. Most people ignore me. I mean a person that happy is a little scary, right. Most people who see me coming, purposefully look away, out of politeness or fear or a wish to be in control, untouchable and untouched. And then there was that woman who gave me a big thumbs up and giant encouraging smile.
And oddly, I learn from the reactions. The invisible feeling evinced in me by the peremptory gaze away contrasted with the connection with the Thumbs Up woman teach me who I want to be. I want to exude so much joy throughout my stinking run, that it brings joy to strangers on Peachtree Road.
And as I head back into my little street and run past the houses near mine, I ask the Blue Sky to bless and gently keep the people inside.
I use my run to change the world.
I use my run to change me.