You know that I find object lessons in a great many things - sometimes even in other individuals. Today's lesson comes from someone I don't even know, but who "crosses my path" on a pretty frequent basis. I have to pass through a few "senior" or "retirement" communities on my way to the hospital each morning, as the hospital is smack dab in the middle of retirement communities galore. As I do so, I see various sights which thrill my heart, such as an elderly man or woman out walking their pet, someone riding along in a motorized cart getting a little fresh air, and even an occasional golf cart transporting someone who has probably lost their ability to drive much in an automobile to and from the grocery store. One such "passerby" catches my attention more than others simply because he is quite "dangerous" in his behavior. It is this elderly man, up in years I am sure, who is always wearing a pair of khaki pants, a shirt, and a hat. His mission: To walk till he drops! I see this guy barreling along at paces which would put most 50-somethings to shame! He just tears up the pathway and leaves dust in his wake. The issue with this guy is his lack of fear, though. He just doesn't stop for anything - including oncoming traffic! Nothing disturbs the pace he has set for himself - and I mean nothing! I wonder just how many of us are like this little guy - barreling along at a reckless pace we have set for ourselves, all the while oblivious or unconcerned for the many things which could end up "doing us in"?
Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. (Hebrews 12:1-2 CEV)
Now this guy is simply out for a little exercise, so I cannot fault him for that, but I can fault him for putting his head down, never really stopping for any of the signs which say to "not cross" the street, and his seeming "trust" in others to stop for him despite their right of way. I am not sure how far he walks, but I think it must be a couple of miles. I have seen him at various spots in my drive, so I know he can "do the distance". He puts his head down, goes off the sidewalk to walk on the grass, gravel, or through flowerbeds to the side of the road. He cuts his own path - something I have seen back-fire for a good many of us! This might just be one the thing which caught my attention first - his desire to go it his own way. Now, we all know this can give us more than one headache! Every time I have chosen to blaze my own path, I have either offended others by doing so, or managed to get myself all mired up in stuff I just shouldn't have been in at all. You know what I mean? We get all muddled up in some mess and then we wonder why!
The second thing is his pace - it is insanely fast. It is like he picks up speed and just barrels through obstacles in his way. I have seen him go through bushes instead of around them! This insanely fast pace is one thing you would think could fatigue him and bring him to a place of slowing down, but I see no signs of him slowing down. In fact, he seems to be in great physical shape! There are times when we set paces for ourselves which are kind of insane, though. Paces which almost set us into a frenzy of activity, without regard for the environment we are in, or the obstacles in our path, can prove to be a little wearing on us. We might think we are doing well, but trust me on this, the pace cannot continue - eventually we will come up against something which is there to slow us down. When this guy comes to that "something" which is designed to slow him down, he doesn't stop! He barrels through - regardless of the danger. This is the third thing which caught my attention.
This lack of fear as it relates to oncoming traffic is kind of weird. He doesn't stop for the "Do Not Walk" sign, nor does he care if he is crossing against traffic! He just steps out into the street and cuts a path, zig-zagging across the street in avoidance of the fast moving vehicles! Now, I don't think this is all that good of an idea! In deference to the drivers who also must navigate around this guy, I'd like to say we delight in his enthusiasm, but come on! Here is a perfect example of someone so bent on his own devices that even the best of safety measures designed specifically to protect him are ignored! We drivers all know we are to yield to pedestrians, but this guy gives us no warning he is about to cross into our paths - he just lurches out there and keeps up his rat-race pace! It is a miracle he hasn't been plowed down already! We swerve into other lanes to avoid him, hoping for the best that there is no car in that lane!
Herein lies the fourth and last lesson I see in this guy's behavior - his lack of concern for the safety of others. I commend him for his desire to exercise. I even commend him for his commitment to the goals he has set. What I cannot commend him for is the position he places others in to ensure HIS path is maintained. He seems to expect others to respect his right to pass, taking responsibility to maintain his safety, without doing much himself to ensure he passes safely! I wonder how many times we are on a path somewhere in our lives without any real regard for what that path is doing to the others around us? Maybe we are so "charged" up by the path we don't see the dangers in our way. Maybe we just figure everybody knows we are on a mission and will get out of our way. I don't know - but when we get so focused on "us" and "our way", we place others in danger!
So, there's my object lesson from the little walker dude. Next time you see someone on their own path, maybe you might just want to slow down a little - they are probably about to cross into yours without much regard for how this will impact you! Just sayin!