Let me preface this by saying, as I have before, that many people swim faster than I do, but I am a steady swimmer, which can make me look like a fast one. Let me add that I have good swims, and I have not-as-good swims. But the fact that I swim at all makes every swim good for the mere gratification of showing up. And sometimes showing up leads to my day brightening in ways I didn’t anticipate.
Last Sunday happened to be a good swim kinda day. I just kept going, basically because I could and because I didn’t have to go to the bathroom. When I finished, I showered and changed, as one tends to do after swimming. I noticed two women — mother and daughter, it turned out — by the mirror, putting on makeup and combing their hair. I asked the younger one if she was going to use the hair dryer, or if i could until she was ready.
“Oh, go ahead,” she said. “I’m not going to dry my hair.”
I thanked her and schlepped my bag onto the counter. Then she said, “You were the one swimming just now, right?”
“Yes,” I said. “That was me.”
“You are SUPERMAN!” she said. She turned to her mother and said something in a language I didn’t understand. The older woman smiled and began nodding her head vigorously.
I started to laugh. “You are so nice,” I said. “I don’t always swim like that. Today was just really good.”
“Well,” the younger woman said, gesturing toward her mother, “we loved watching you swim.” Her mother smiled and nodded again, and I couldn’t wipe that silly grin off my own face while I dried my hair and told them goodbye.
OK, call me a sucker for a compliment, but that little exchange made my day. Yes, because a stranger said something really, really nice about an activity I love doing. But it wasn’t just that; I learned a little lesson from those two minutes, too:
Namely, that if you have a nice thought, voice it — to a friend, a loved one, a person you may never have laid eyes on until now. You’ll feel better; the person you say it to will feel better. Who knows what kind of day they were having before? But you can pretty much guess what direction the next hours or minutes or even moment will take.
So for that extra and continued burst of energy…for strangers who see something in us we rarely see ourselves…and thus for feeling, even once in forever, like Superman…The Grateful Runner says thank you.