I met this woman on a trail run; her house burned down in the Ojai fire this past December. When she told me this, after some small talk, I told her that I was sorry to hear about her house. “Don’t be sorry,” she responded.
I paused, surprised by her response, and pressed further. “Why shouldn’t I be sorry?” I asked, “were you able to save most of your belongings before the fire hit?”
She told me that all she was able to save was a duffle worth of clothing. That’s all. Her life, stripped down to no material belongings except for a bag of clothing, and yet she radiated positive energy. She said all of this to me with a smile on her face.
Picking up on her energy, I asked her how she was able to cope with such a loss in a positive light. She responded with a running metaphor, quite fitting seeing that we were on a trail run.
“I was running through life with a rock in my shoe,” she said. “Even though I was moving in a forward direction, I was wobbling, not running at my full potential.” The fire had forced her to think about what the real-life manifestation of that rock was; the thing that was holding her back from running forward with ease and grace. The fire presented her with an opportunity to confront that rock and remove it from her shoe, from her life. And there, on that trail in 95-degree heat, her happiness was tangible.
Continuing on my run, I could not get her metaphor out of my mind. What is the rock in my shoe? How many are there, and if there are more than one, which one is causing the biggest disruption?
I think that everyone has rocks in their shoes. Some have small ones, and others have large. Some have round, others have sharp. Each rock posing some sort of disturbance, some obstacle to running free.
Life is beautiful and challenging and presents us with opportunities to reach down and consciously remove the rocks from our shoes. For my trail mate, it took a fire to force her to take an introspective look at what in her life was holding her back and making it harder to achieve her goal. The important lesson here is not in the fire. It is that she finally realized the existence of these rocks; she had an awakening. Step one to removing these rocks is to acknowledge the existence of them.
So, here’s to the infinite rocks, and the beautiful journey of removing them to run free.
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