What the old man saw that I didn’t

Nick was running late. It was 8.10 am in Sheffield. I wasn’t the one in need of a full English breakfast today. I was all dressed, ready for a ridiculous run that I probably overpromised my unconditioned heart. It was beautiful outside, the sun in its full glory; a rarity in north England. My phone rings and I get confirmation that for the first time I was not the one suffering from the Wednesday 1-pound shots. So, I decided to do this alone – where was I running to? I did not know but I just did.

Like a lost soul I ran and found myself in Endcliffe park where only pensioners and dog walkers treaded the paths. It was far too early for any student to be up. A sign beckoned, “Peak District”. How far did I need to run to get to this? I took the risk. Into the woods and onto the dirt tracks, adrenaline and fresh air pushed me through. I crossed a road, up some hills.
And then silence. I heard nothing, no vehicles, no people, no dogs. It was just me, the grazing sheep and peak district. Serendipity.

I kept wandering to find myself near a farm house. From a distance, stood 3 figures, sharing and admiring the surrounding beauty. I soon caught up, exchanged “good mornings” and smiles. But something else caught my eye – a path with a “No trespassing sign”. They say curiosity kills the cat. The happy outcome of my earlier risk taking gave confidence as the vast, captivating meadow called out to me.

I found soon after that we were all disobedient as the family of 3 had caught up with me. Perhaps this was some short cut back home. The old man decides to have a chat with me. He points to a weathered tree some 5 metres away and in his words “Go to that tree. There will be a hole on the trunk. Look through it and there, you will find the most beautiful picture.” I was left there to ponder whilst the 3 of them carried on ahead of me. This was all rather weird but the prospect of discovery got me there. And yet this was not going to be easy. A sign on the fence proclaiming “Danger! Electrocution risk”, stood between the tree and I. I was not born tall. A taller person could’ve easily maneuvered himself across this fence. After over-analysing the situation, I leaped over. Writing this now is a testament to my survival 😊

Finally, the last risk taken and here was my tree waiting for me! The hole as described by the old man was easy to find; a big gaping hole in the centre. I peered in and saw the sun. What did he want me to see? I moved around to change perspectives and saw a house. If you observed me then, you might have thought what my crazy self was doing.

I gave up and thought about what the old man said. Then it hit me. Of course we all define happiness and beauty differently. What was beautiful to this man might not be as beautiful to me. I found happiness in discovering the peak district and feeling at peace with the quietness it offered. A moment of serendipity! Upon further reflection, perhaps he was trying to tell me that the simplest things in life are the most beautiful things. Like the sun that first met my eyes as I peered into the hole. I ran back to my halls hoping that I’d meet that old man again to talk about this. I would never see him again but I realized how he impacted my life.

Dedicated to my friend Nick who passed 5 years ago. Thanks for teaching me how to make sushi and upside-down cake but most importantly, being that forgiving friend who would always carry me home. Missing you on this day, my dear friend xxx

%d bloggers like this: