Happy September! I always think of this time of year as new beginnings. I admit, it’s partly because my birthday is this month. But also, as summer winds down and temps cool, things start to heat up in life. People begin going to seminars, consider career options and feel more of a need to get moving with their lives. Many of us are lazier in the summer. Work slows down. People take vacations. Workdays are often shorter. Now it’s time to get going!

Since it’s cooler, I’m literally doing more running in Central Park. My mood is brighter as I get more revved!

This morning I got up early to run. I was in a good mood and feeling energetic. I loved the crisp, cool (around 60), low humidity air with the sun shining brightly. I have to stop to stretch and hydrate occasionally and have spots I do that. My tendons behind my knees get too tight if I don’t. After a while, I jumped off the path most runners use. This spot is the end of a small stretch of dirt that some runners take instead of the paved path. I stop at the very end of a short one. Behind me is a fence so no one can continue.

I always thought I was out of people’s way there, until this woman with a bad attitude growled at me.

I see her often. She obviously has a physical disability. One of her arms seems permanently bent and she favors one side of her body as she runs. I’ve always admired her as she chugs along, despite her limitations. Until today. I saw her coming toward me as I drank some water and assumed she’d jump onto the main path like everyone else does when they reach the end of the dirt path. I do that sometimes. I backed up against the fence to give her room as she closed in on me. Fast!

As she turned around to go back the way she came she growled at me, “Why are you here?!!” with hostility

She knew I was a runner (even if she didn’t recognize me, she could see I was sweaty and had been running). It would seem logical that I’d be in this dead end space instead of blocking many runners on the main path when I stopped to refresh. Often I see people just hanging in that spot who aren’t in the park to exercise. It’s everyone’s park. I admit I get annoyed when people walk in groups on the path for exercisers when there’s a walking path parallel to it. But I don’t verbally attack them. I go around them.

I was so stunned by this woman’s anger that I couldn’t retort before she turned and ran back. Being handicapped doesn’t give license to be nasty.

I assumed her routine is to run to this point and turn around and go back. She looked like she wanted to tag the fence. But in a public park, you can’t always do things your way. I felt angry as I began to run again. What had been a lovely peaceful run got snagged with her negativity. I silently answered her in my head. “Why am I here?” Because I have a right to be! It’s a city park! Better there than blocking many runners. I wasn’t expecting someone to need that dead end. As I resumed my run, I thought I might see her again if she turned and came back toward me and I could shout that at her.

Gratefully, I caught myself. This woman is obviously unhappy if she makes such a big deal out of going all the way to the fence.

It wasn’t worth ruining my run over by letting the thoughts play in my head. I let it go. By feeding a need to say something to her, I was adopting her bad attitude. Maybe yelling something would feel good for the moment but it wasn’t necessary. In the bigger picture, it wouldn’t be a nice thing to do. This woman has a physical problem and maybe this run is her only way to feel in control. So I let it go and felt much better after.

Telling someone off isn’t worth the energy most of the time.

Compassion for the fact a person who gets mean or nasty must be unhappy about something in their life eases anger. Understanding that makes it easier to accept their actions. Bad attitudes can be contagious, just as good ones can be. Watch yourself when you’re hit with one that makes you bristle. Forgive the person for taking their own stuff out on you in your heart and let it go! Instead, spread a good attitude to others! ?

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