“You walk very fast.” I hear the words at the same time a wet nose bumps my calves. I turn to find an older woman walking on the trail next to me. I had slowed down to text a friend briefly when she unexpectedly popped in to my path during my walk. She smiles, “I wasn’t able to catch you until now. It’s why I said something. Usually I’m way ahead of everyone but you walk as quickly as I do.”
We enjoy a nice chat as I pace along side her. I explain that I used to run but now walk because of my bad knees. She confesses she used to run marathons and was unsure about this walking business but really enjoys it. We both agree we can’t run to save our lives now and not ironically, that’s when she asks if I’ve seen the coyotes. We both agree perhaps we should carry pepper spray.
It’s about ten minutes, my time with her, this older woman in her late fifties? Early sixties? She has amazing legs and a warm, kind, lovely face. I think she never wore makeup and I identify with this. I ponder myself at her age, if I would still be walking on this trail. Would I let myself be natural and light and would I still talk lightly to another woman, a stranger?
She graciously explains she has dinner guests coming soon so she must turn here but he will keep a look out for me in the future. She tells me her name and I tell her mine. We wave as we part.
Something about her strikes me. Lately I’ve been so flustered at work. I feel so tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed. There are both wonderful, and challenging, parts of life right now and desperation consumes the harder times and a flood of light fill the good ones.
There are many stories of people’s future selves coming to encourage their present ones. Perhaps the most famous, by Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love” explains, “Maybe it was this present and fully actualized me who was hovering four years ago over that young married sobbing girl on the bathroom floor, and maybe it was this me who whispered lovingly into that desperate girl’s ear, ‘Go back to bed, Liz…’ Knowing already that everything would be OK, that everything would eventually bring us together here. Right here, right to this moment. Where I was always waiting in peace and contentment, always waiting for her to arrive and join me.”
I bring this up at one of Mr Flinger’s and my marathon kitchen talks. He reminds me of a Northern Exposure episode where a similar thing happens to Shelly who is pregnant with their first child and runs in to her future daughter at a variety of stages in the laundry mat. Clearly this is a fictional tale, but so are the memories of my life. Always writing stories of interactions and re-writing my own history to include the pieces I should have said or would have done in retrospect, there’s a part of me that wants to remember the lady on the trail as the future me, kindly affirming life is alright and if we push through the difficult times, I will one day meet a young woman on a trail as my dog rubs her calf and perhaps it will change her life.