We walked into the movie theater just before the start of the movie WILD. We sat behind a man, an elderly woman wearing headphones to help her hear the movie and a younger woman. I assumed the elderly woman was accompanied by her adult children.
I really needed to sit still and enjoy being entertained. Earlier in the day I reached a personal milestone that involved running 11 miles, just so I could say I ran 1,000 miles in 2014 and I was really tired.
I decided to learn to run longer distances in an attempt to lose weight and to be in shape for my retirement plans of hiking and backpacking, hence my intrigue with the movie tonight. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to discipline myself enough to reach a goal of 1,500 miles in one year. I would have done it had I not fractured my shoulder trying to teach a puppy how to run with me. I missed out on three months of my miles tally.
During this year, as frustrating as it was to have to postpone three half marathons, and the CIM which was to be my first full marathon, the year was also greatly rewarding in all the cliche ways.
During my year of running I learned to listen to my body (see you haven’t died), and not my sarcastic brain (if you don’t stop, you will die, just saying). I learned to practice a type of meditation that only running great distances alone can facilitate. It’s the best possible manner of list making, positive self talk, rosary recital and practicing being quick witted responses before they are even needed.
I learned to be grateful for the simple things, like being able to tie your running shoes, pulling on running clothes with both hands, and shampooing my hair without contorting my head over to the left to accommodate my bum shoulder.
I learned to appreciate the opportunity to be happy, then taking the extra step to actually BE HAPPY! I sometimes found myself humming along and even singing some of the songs on my “Running Playlist.” Usually my singing doesn’t bother anyone since I’m running past them in what ever direction I’m going. Nevertheless, I do on occasion get funny looks, especially from children in strollers.
So when in the middle of the movie I realized that the tiny elderly lady sitting directly in front of me was singing the words to Red River Valley right along with the child actor, I smiled in the dark.
Her adult children looked over her at each other as if in a panic. The movie screen behind them illuminated their profiles and I could see they were smiling, a little embarrassed but tickled anyway. They did not stop her from singing.
From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened our pathways awhile
Come and sit by my side, if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy who loved you so true
When she finished singing she said in a shaky voice, “That’s my favorite song.”
I remembered my fifth grade teacher, and her love of folk songs. She made us learn many of her favorites. Red River Valley was among the many ballads we belted out a couple times a week. How the hell else would a Mexican child of non English speaking migrant workers learn such a song? And I smiled again.
As we gathered our belongings to leave the theater, I touched the man’s arm to get his attention. “You are very lucky,” I said to him as I turned to leave. As I walked out of the theater I heard his sister say, “What did she tell you?”
In that moment I thought to myself, “That we are all very lucky to have witnessed joy today.”
Her joy about hearing one of her favorite songs and my happiness about reaching a running milestone are forever linked in my mind.
From now on I will sing when I am happy and I don’t think I’ll worry about who hears.