Last week I was running early in the morning. I do that to keep in shape and also because it is a lot of fun.
I was a little more than ½ way through my journey when I noticed a woman in her early twenties standing on the sidewalk. She had an overturned bicycle in front of her and wore a scowl on her face.
I ran at my usual speed (which is about 7.5 minutes per mile) to her, turned off my MP3 player, and asked her if I could be of service. She seemed surprised that a stranger offered to help her. She paused, looked at her upside-down bicycle, and seeing few options, agreed that I could help her.
She explained that her chain had fallen off the gears and didn’t know how to put it back on. I got on my knees and examined both the chain and the bike.
It didn’t look like an easy job. I usually don’t carry a screwdriver or pliers when I run. So the only thing I had was my brain and muscles. The brain to figure it out and the muscles to actually do the job.
Meanwhile, she was on the phone talking to someone who I assume to be her friend. She had a class at Goldenwest College and didn’t want to be late for her class.
After about five minutes of looking at the chain, I figured out what had gone wrong. Her chain had gotten caught in the chain guard and was stuck. So much for the brain part.
I still had to figure out how to pry it loose and re-attach it to the gears.
Pulling out the dirty and greasy chain turned out to be the easy part. Getting the chain back on the gears prove a little harder. The chain had a problem hanging onto the gears. Couldn’t figure it out for a while. Then I suddenly realized that gravity had something to do with it.
Turning the bike over made all the difference in the world, or at least made gravity work for me.
I asked her to ride her bike a short distance to see if the chain held. It did. And I was happy. Not to mention the owner of the bike.
I don’t recall if she ever thanked me. I know I told her to go to her class.
I felt like a knight in shiny armor, saving a damsel in distress. Well, minus the shiny armor. I tend to run light.
Then again, I don’t think I was a knight after all. There was no dragon or evil thing out there. Just a random event.
Perhaps I was merely a stranger on the street who was willing to stop and help someone in need.
Anyway, back to the story.
Now, my hands were dirty and greasy. And I had no easy way to clean them. I usually don’t carry paper towels when I run. And my running shirt was white, so that was also out of the question. But my shorts were dark, so cleaned my hands and fingers on them.
Why should I care about dirt on my hands? After all, I run quite a bit. One normally expects dirt, sweat, water, and wind-blown particles to attach themselves to my human body as it runs through the elements.
Well, I was carrying a hand- held MP3 player. And I wanted to turn it back on without getting it dirty and greasy.
But that is only part of the answer.
The other part of the answer is that running for me is something I do when I want to relax, unwind, ignore the world, touch the land with my feet, and come close to doing something spiritual.
I am still not sure that is the complete answer. Maybe I just don’t like grease and dirt.