I try to show kindness toward everyone, but I often wonder if I have some sort of inner-barbarian that needs to rage upon a victim. I won’t let the barbarian pillage any villages, so he uses me as an outlet. He typically satisfies his sickening thirst for pain by making me get up at 6am every morning to jog to the gym.
I typically enjoy exercising, but my jogs through Utah winters has nurtured an empathy in me for the soldiers who’s leaders ordered winter invasion of Russia. My thin sweatshirt acts like a thin breastplate, my gloves knowingly unfit for the fight ahead, and my shoes absorb moisture from the snow like they aspire to become a cloth moccasin.
Though, for all the frost that cuts across my jaw and the cold that hardens my beads of sweat into diamonds, the mornings are peaceful. Often, on a clear morning, I feel like I’m chasing after the moon as it seems to reflect the icy-white floor below it.
I’m not the only one chained to this winter wonderland. I frequently encounter others bound to a gym. I notice shopkeepers enter their frozen cages, the bars built from the slow drips of growing icicles. I dodge cars blinded as they peer through Jack Frost’s canvass.
One morning, I found a particularly kindred spirit. I would have thought that the only morning zombie that I could relate to would be another man with an inner gym-barbarian. Instead, this man sulked the sidewalks, hunched over a heavy bag. Bundled in a brown jacket over a sweatshirt, he looked like a frozen hunchback with no greater purpose than to imagine that he was a Santa Claus with a gift for every good child on the block.
He walked up and down the lot in front of Taco Bell, Del Taco, and L&L Hawaiian Grill. As he dragged his bag along, he continuously reached in, grabbing handfuls, and scattering it’s crystalline contents onto the ground. The handfuls dropped almost as gently as the snow alongside it, but hit the concrete faster, like it had a job to do and couldn’t allow itself to be distracted by the lazy, free-spirited snowflakes.
I didn’t immediately recognize it for it was, but as my legs pumped along, my eyes caught site of the falling sparkles that leaped from his hand. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. I halted in mid stride, nearly throttling my face into the ground in response to my legs threatening to slide above my head.
We only looked for a moment. Our eyes met, with our eyebrows and eyelashes frosted over from a gentle morning drift. Although we stood there exhausted, we spent that moment without noticing the pain of our slumbering minds, nor the chill from our flocked facial stubble. I didn’t stand there for more than a second, but as I left without a word, I knew that we had connected in a unique way. It changed my morning. It might have changed my entire life.
That frozen morning at 6am, I met someone who shared something in which I thought I was alone. For the first time, and perhaps for the last, I met a truly kindred spirit.
That frozen morning at 6am, I found someone else who also thinks that sidewalks taste much better when salted.
Keep seeking truth.
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Header photo credit:
“Antal Berkes Straßenszene” by Antal Berkes – Dorotheum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons, link here.