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This morning, I woke up early.  I couldn’t sleep past 4:00 a.m.  I’ve heard this happens to, ahem, “women of a certain age.”  Sighing, I finally got up.  I ate a brownie.  What? Doesn’t Sandra Bullock ever eat brownies?!  I was starving.  Then I did 2 loads of laundry, and headed out for a run.

Since no sun greeted me at o-dark-thirty, I changed it up by going to the gym.  As you know from my earlier ramblings, nobody talks at the gym during early morning hours.  Unless it has something to do with the fan, or falling off a machine, or something’s on fire.  You might be able to get by with a cordial “good morning”. I always try. Otherwise, grunts, pained smiles and/or head nods suffice.

I almost didn’t recognize blue tank top guy (BTG).  Okay, that’s not *really* his name.  Truth is, I don’t know his name. But he is a gym regular, and today he wore a gray tank top.  Only the familiar tattoos tipped me off.  A couple of white-haired ladies walked near me on their moving sidewalks, watching the local news playing on the TV above them.  One grabbed a fan and positioned it near her. The cool air blew over her onto me.  I knew better than to try and highjack BTG’s fan – I could lose a limb – so I was grateful for her initiative.

I needed to clear my head.  I wanted to run as long and as fast as I could.  I did not pick the machine that rumbles like a plane taking off.  Too  loud and it lumbers.  I punched in pace plus incline and took off.

I plodded along.  I realized my pace had me barely sweating.  Then I pondered if that was bad.  I couldn’t see much outside, except the reflection of what was inside.  Arrayed behind me sat metallic instruments of torture with foam pads attached.  Somebody always uses the hamstring one, bent over, pushing up the weight with the back of their leg.  It seems awkward and grunt-worthy. This time, it was another elderly lady.  She stopped often to catch her breath.  In the corner, a 30-something blonde pony-tailed gal lifted free weights after sweating it out on the elliptical.

I finished a few stiff miles on the machine. I asked myself, Am I done?  Is my head clear?  Can I go home and be good to my family and other hapless folks I might encounter?

Nope.

I thought about how windows and mirrors merely reflect what stands in front of them.  Neither have the ability to interpret or perceive. And even what we see of others with our own eyes isn’t necessarily reality. I don’t know any of the people I saw this morning, nor they me. I can infer things based on appearance, but that won’t take the place of understanding.

I tucked my water bottle and towel in my car.  Under the streetlights, in the cool of predawn morning, I ran some more. I used the pool of yellow from the streetlights to guide me over the sloped sidewalks.  I shielded my eyes against the glare of oncoming headlights, though thankful for the extra light. The night air revived me.  A few scattered leaves littered the ground.

Alone, under the cover of darkness and away from my fellow exercisers, I felt free.  I ran until I could run no more.  Then I turned around.

For we live by believing and not by seeing. – 2 Corinthians 5:7

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