What Power Looks Like

In the mornings, I walk the park.

Most people run the park. So, I see a lot of runners pass me by. And I love to watch the runners.

This morning, there was one who was near flawless. He moved soundlessly, more above the earth than on it. Always he would lead the pack. His arms sliding and his legs gliding back and forth, back and forth in an unending flow. It was excellent, pure elegance of form. What they taught you running should be in gym class.

I have favorite runners to watch. But he is not one of them.

My favorite runners are the ones at the back of the pack. Or a mile behind it.

Like the woman I saw this morning. She was breathing loud, ragged breaths. Feet slowly, heavily thumping the earth. Her cheeks were crimson and her eyes looked down, as though her legs might stop if she looked away. There was no unending flow. She was running step by step by hard, hard step.

This woman was not elegant. She looked nothing like what they taught you in gym class. But this woman was powerful. In her showing up. In her refusal to discount herself because she wasn’t the excellent one. In her living, loud breathing, earth thumping reminder that we do the hard things step by step by step.

And when she passed me this morning, I thought what I always think when runners like her go by: Yes, this is what power looks like.

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