I don’t have the slightest clue what her real name is. I’ve never stopped to ask. She looks like a Sally, and since I know myself and I know that I will never stop to find out her name, then in my reality, Sally she shall be.
Sally and I, we have a real connection. I see her most every day on my midday run. And everyday I run by, she waves and says….
Well, at first I had no idea what she said. I run with my iPod at such a deafening volume. It motivates me. But, after running by Sally day in and day out for weeks, I decided to pause the music.
As I ran by, Sally waved and said, “Have a good run, sir!” She smiled and continued to wave as I ran on by. And when I came back from the opposite direction on my return trip home she said, “Have a good end to your run, Sir!”
And ever since that first day I paused my iPod, it is now my ritual to pause the music ever single time I run by Sally. And it is Sally’s ritual to wave and wish me a good run on the way out and good end to my run on the way back.
Perhaps I should now tell you that Sally is most definitely homeless, and likely mentally ill. She is probably in her mid fifties. She is dressed in dirty frumpy clothes and the same straw hat everyday. She is sitting in the same spot almost every single day I do a midday run. She waves to all the runners, wishes them good runs. She receives confused and cautious looks from out of towners.
I don’t know if any of the other locals wave back, but I do. I make it a point to acknowledge Sally and wave back. She is kind enough to cheer me on. It’s the least I could do. And maybe I hope that when people see me waving to Sally, they will accept her as I have. You see, I am a little bit envious of Sally.
I don’t remember where I heard it or when, but I have always been struck by the quote, “life is not based on reality. Instead, life is based on the perception of reality.”
Imagine that. Imagine that you perceived the world in the way Sally does. Likely, she has little or no idea what her condition is. If she did, how could she possibly be so happy?! Seriously, she seems so content. So happy. So free. In her perception of her reality, life just simply be perfect. Sunshine, the outdoors, interacting with people, without a care in the world.
Sally exists beyond the boundaries of society. She is neither bound by convention nor the constructed realities of the modern world. Every time I run past Sally I try and draw something from that. I try to be more free in my thinking, less critical of myself. I try to accept myself for who I am. And in that moment, as I run by her, out of breathe and unable to fight anymore, I accept myself.
But, this freedom is fleeting. By the time I am back home, I have given up on acceptance and gone back to the conformist policies of the everyday rat race that is modern human existence.