There is a woman in this city whose name I do not know but whose face I can still see and presence I can still feel. I’m hoping she will be in the same place at the same time next July 4th.
We were both standing on a corner for several hours watching the annual July 4th Peachtree Road Race, in which there were 50,000 runners and walkers registered this year. There was the usual exchange of conversation about anticipation of the race and the fact that on this particular day all humidity had disappeared and the temperature was unusually low and gorgeous for summer in the south. We talked about the wheelchair racers and how moving it is to see their strength, courage and determination…lots of amiable chit-chat but we never introduced ourselves to each other.
She was wearing, if I remember correctly, an Atlanta Running Club t-shirt and had a designation of Volunteer as well. She did not strike me as a runner and while curious, I did not ask. It is possible we all are something people would not think!
About an hour into the race I realized that her volunteer job that day was to cheer on the runners and walkers and that she was in her assigned spot. For the four or so hours we stood by each other she was relentless in her enthusiasm. There was a cadence and almost a melody with her words. I wish I could capture that part in writing. I have her voice memorized.
She said, “Alriiiggghhhttt!!! Keep on g-o-i-n-g…YOU can do it!” People smiled, thanked her, high fived her and let her know she made a difference. Each participant only heard her once. I heard her probably close to 100 times.
It is now more than two and a half months later. I am getting my own business off the ground. I am working hard to lose some pounds that snuck back on and to exercise faithfully every day. I continue to work on building my strengths and capacities and to disregard the gremlins and saboteurs that want to have their voice. And so much more.
I am reading fabulous books (and writing one) and am in connection and networking with people of all ages and places in their lives who inspire me to be and do my best. I have a much greater sense than ever of motivation, determination, persistence, focus, energy, and vision. I am grateful and exhilarated. I am passionate about my new work and all the ways in which I am growing and producing. I feel like I am in my 30s or 40s, not mid 60s.
The voice that rises above all other resources of people, podcasts, books, videos, etc., and in the moments when I most need it, is that of the woman whose name I do not know. It is rather like she was placed on the corner for me instead of the runners and walkers. When I am tired of keeping my walking pace and want to slow down or try to talk myself into stopping after one time around the park rather than going twice I hear her. When I am questioning whether a piece of my business development will ever be finished and right I hear her. When I doubt for even a split second whether I will be able to support myself financially I hear her. I hear the smooth cadence and the words and melody. “Alriiiggghhhttt!!! Keep on g-o-i-n-g…YOU can do it!” She whose name I do not know keeps me going. She who has not written a book or been on stage and is not well known, though she is to me, delivers a blast of energy and confidence and a bit of laughter…I am not about to let her down…or, more importantly, myself.
Toward the end of our time at the race she said, “I don’t run but when the call went out for volunteers to help in various ways for this race, I thought it was the least I could do.”
Little does she know.