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One of these mornings I woke up with my boxing gloves on. There was no one around to defend myself from or whom to throw an upper cut to. It was my own mind battling to figure out if I should go to the gym at 9AM or if I should go to the nature reserve for a run. It was a ping pong of reasons justifing why each had to be chosen. Exhausted only fifteen minutes after I woke up… I blew the whistle! I I told myself to be ready for the alternatives and keep my options open.

As I walked into the kitchen my oldest son was sitting cozy in his pajama having resisted to get dressed for school. Force him to change demanding his best efforts so I could make it to my class on time or see it as the solution? That magically solved my dilemma!! I would go to Bill Baggs reserve and there was no need to race against time. I felt my whole body relax and I secretly smiled realizing that answers come to us when we least expect them.

When I enthusiastically jumped out of my car at No Name Harbor an unknown force pulled me in the direction of a dirt path I had never taken before. I knew it existed and on several occasions had the intention of exploring it but it was never meant to be. Until now. My legs told me they wanted to walk and I obeyed. As I advanced I could see through the native shrubs to the other side of the harbor where I normally jaunt to admire nature and my fiery love, the Sun. Coming to the end of that path I turned around rhythmically and sought out to find the trail that leads deep into the mangroves. It started out wide and welcoming, then slowly the path narrowed to my shoulder width and branches hung low inviting only those who felt determined to proceed. The grass around me grew taller, wildlife scrambled to hide in the bushes, a hawk-like bird zoomed over me with a mission. I realized few people come this way. Why was I there? If something happened to me, I wondered how long it would take them to find my body. It seemed that I had been walking for a long time. Seeing familiar buildings in the distance gave me a sense of security; I was still in Key Biscayne! Memories of a safari in South Africa fueled my imagination of finding a lion resting nearby. I’ve never heard any stories about people disappearing or dying in this park. But if one did show up, I indulged on the idea that I would be able to smile my way out. Then I pushed these thoughts away.

Breathing again and focused on the peace of nature, I realized how fortunate I was to be walking in this magical place. So simple. So basic and yet… the whole universe was here with me. I finally made it to the end and found an opening to look at the mangroves. Carefully, I stepped on slippery rocks to get a better view. I felt like I was intruding in an intimate space. The view was serenely lovely, not quite spectacular. I remembered that life is about the journey, not the destination. On my way back, I came across a handicap man on his motorized wheelchair and a beautiful golden dog. It filled my heart with love and inspiration to find a man who won’t let circumstances stop him from embracing the glory of life.

When I reached the point where I occasionally sit to watch the sunset, I started to run and admire the view of the ocean. Miraculously, I spotted a pod of dolphins! The timing was incredibly perfect… I slowed down and headed to one of the small fishing piers to watch the parade. So many of them!! I didn’t know where to look. Over here, so close! Back there by the boat. Gliding smoothly, jumping out unexpectedly, playfully swimming along. I could have missed all of this if I have gone to my spinning class! And then they were gone but my soul was alive and I continued my run in the other direction. I was floating over the path, listening to my music and happily waving at other people enjoying the morning.

My body jolted forward and I landed on the pebbly path on my stomach with my arms bracing the fall. Ouch! I turned abruptly to find the source of my fall. Then I saw the sly rock poking out from the earth. Who put that there!?? Shouldn’t someone dig it out? From my perspective, it seemed like an imposing mountain. My hands rushed up to wipe the dirt off each other and I observed the damage. No cuts. Slightly scrapped, bruising would follow. My black pants were dusted and I pounded on my legs to clean them off. A couple was frozen a few meters away not knowing how to react. Finally, they decided that they could ask me if I needed help. I smiled back and told them I was fine. Soon I was jogging again. Slightly slower. As I ran I felt the pain on my knees and I convinced myself that running would help the blood circulate again.

When I reached the lighthouse I stopped to stretch and laughed at how unexpected that belly flop was and how ridiculous I looked full of dirt. On the way back my eyes were glued to the ground making sure I wouldn’t trip again. I had learned my lesson. Taking another fall now would be bloody unpleasant. How many rocks would I have to clear out to avoid falling? It was impossible to count them all. I wondered why they didn’t fix this path, and then I defended it’s natural state. Now the battle was my mind against an external element.

Suddenly I grasped the innocence of the rock which was simply lying there without any ill purpose. How could I be upset with it? It was in my path in the same manner the dolphins were, my son in his pajama was, and the trail which lured me. Life happens for reasons that are unknown to us to teach us. It dawned on me that this applied to any situation or people we come across. As humans, we have our own issues and conditioning, reactions, and attitudes. I know it’s not my goal to go through life getting in other’s way but without intention I do at times. I understand this applies to everyone.

What if I dug up the rock that tripped me? That would have ruined my morning run and it would be practically impossible to clear the path of all obstacles. Next time I face an unwanted situation in my life I hope to recall this incident. Do I desire to be happy and surrender to life as my teacher or do I want to throw a tantrum, get a shovel and spend my life ‘digging up rocks’, trying to change people and situations?

There’s always a battle we can fight and yet there’s always peace to be found.

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