Looking for something short-ish and shady, I hit the trails by work.
Within, the first... I don't know... maybe 20 seconds or so of the trail, while crossing the gorge, the big-ass hunk of concrete that sure looked to be solidly planted in the mud, wasn't.
It tipped. I slipped. And fell. And scraped the buh-jeezus out of my ankle.
"Mutha Fudge!" sounds similar to what I said.
Reasonably sure I wasn't going to bleed out, I moved on. Turning a corner I was surprised by a big muddy mess of a puddle. Edge to edge. Way to long to jump.
Try to imagine what it's like to be running down a trail and to unexpectedly, like without a step to spare, find a gaping hole in the trail filled with mud. What would you do? You'd slam on the brakes, right? Yeah, me too.
Problem is, it's particularly hard to stop quickly in mud.
When I tried to stop, I slid. And slid. And nearly fell. I would have fallen if I hadn't grabbed a hunk of the greenery that surrounds the tr- HOLY MOTHER NATURE'S EVIL TWIN! WHAT IS MAKING MY HAND STING LIKE UNREQUITED LOVE!
Ya see, what I grabbed to keep from falling into dirty, but otherwise harmless mud, was a fist full of stinging nettles. Imagine someone throwing you a rope lined with wasps that had been tied to the rope, stinger out, up and down it's length. Angry wasps.
Nature's land-based version of the jellyfish
Yeah, not pleasant. At all.
Still, I trudged on. Seemed more noble than sitting in the middle of the trail pouting.
A few minutes later, I felt a sharp, immediately and intensely painful, distinctly insect initiated sensation from the un-scraped-to-hell part of my ankle.
Not sure what was biting me. When I swatted at it, it fell into my shoe. I jammed my finger in there to squish it. Which I did. What was left wasn't enough to identify. I know it was black. I flicked the remains to the ground.
This next part I'm not proud of... I saw a spider crawling away from roughly the spot where I'd flicked my attacker. Out of misplaced vengeance, I stomped on the spider. Not very Buddhist of me.
The rest of the run was, thankfully, pain free.
As I cruised back to the building, I felt like I should have regretted going out on the run. I was bloody, dirty, bitten, and my hand was stinging as if it were melting.
But it's the incidents we overcome that define us. What do we learn about ourselves of the world if nothing happens to us?
What we've survived make us who we are. Divorces, break-ups, lay-offs, failures, mistakes, losses, these are the scars of a life lived. They mark us as veterans of life, courageous and able to persevere.
Don't go out looking for a rock to slip on, or a relationship to regret. But don't let your scars from the past haunt you. Don't let the chance of a bug bite keep you from a great run. And if you do get bit, rather than damning the run, consider it just another brush with death survived.
Numbers: 2.3 miles on trails