This morning I saw an old acquaintance while I was out running. This gentleman has been a constant source of inspiration for me since I first encountered him one early gray morning at the West Valley College track. I have never actually met him. I don't even know his name. But when, by chance, our paths cross during my morning runs, I always find myself motivated to try a little harder in the coming day.
The first day we met, I was jogging around the track, basically thinking about how hard it is to get up early to run. I heard a metallic clinking sound that was gaining on me from behind. At first, I didn't pay much attention, but as the sound drew closer, I turned to see this gentleman running with a white cane. I stepped aside to let him pass. He said "good morning" and then ran on ahead of me. He used the cane as a guide to the track, tapping it against the metal lip that borders the inside running lane. In later encounters, I found that he marks his laps by placing a small radio next to the track so that he knows where he started, and, also, where to find his jacket.
The first effect this fellow had on me was that I stopped making excuses to myself about how hard it was to get up and run in the morning. This doesn't mean that I don't skip a few days from time-to-time; I still do. I just don't easily buy in to my previous rationalizations.
The most lasting lesson I have learned from this gentleman is about life in general. It's about how important it is to try to improve our lives no matter what obstacles we face. Thankfully, most of us don't face the physical challenges of this early morning runner. Often, the biggest barriers we will face in our lives are the ones we create ourselves. We spend our energy negatively in rationalizations, excuses, and complaints. The first step to improvement is simply to convert this energy from negative to positive. How do we so? Begin with the words “I can."