Sunday, May 08, 2005
A couple years ago I was in Tennessee to be near a close friend who was in the hospital. I also had some editing to do there, but that didn't take much of my time. Every day I went to the gym to walk on the treadmill for an hour in preparation for coming to Colorado because I wanted to hike in the mountains, and because it had not been that long since I began to lose a lot of weight and rebuild my stamina and strength.
One night when I came up out of the gym onto the street a voice called out of the darkness.
"I've wanted to talk to you for a while now, but I didn't feel right coming up to you in the gym."
I looked up into the shadows. A petite, fit, thin woman stood there in silhouette. "It would have been all right. I like to meet new people," I said.
She didn't move any closer, just stood there in the darkness. "I didn't want to embarrass you."
I waited for her to continue.
"You inspire me." She took a deep breath and sighed, moving down one step. "Every day you come in to the gym and you walk on the treadmill. I see you struggle through the last few minutes every once in a while, but you keep walking, and you keep coming in every day. Seeing you here every day makes me want to work harder and keep going even when I'd rather not be here. I can't tell you how much you've come to mean to me."
I smiled into the shadows. "Thank you."
"I just wanted you to know," she said as she stepped back up to the elevated sidewalk and walked away through the shadows.
My 3X T-shirt slipped lower down my arm. I'd have to buy something smaller soon, something that didn't hang on me like a potato sack. I shouldered my backpack and walked to the car, got in and drove home.
The next day when I went to the gym and set the program on the treadmill I look around to see if I'd recognize the woman from the shadows. Then I realized it didn't matter. I wasn't there for her. I was there for me.