A man in his late 50s or early 60s jogged past me tonight as I walked along the familiar lakeside path. He had a ratty white t-shirt tucked into teal shorts, held up by a brown belt. His baseball cap had a crooked brim and over his ears were old school Sony radio headphones.
He hummed along to whatever music was playing in his ears and danced as he jogged. He wasn’t going very fast and would often stop to overlook the lake or smile at people who passed by. His sporadic pace ended up matching my steady speed, so he unintentionally accompanied me throughout most of my miles. Runners dodged around him, giving him odd looks or getting irritated that he was all over the place. Some people giggled to each other as they walked past him in the other direction.
There was something oddly inspiring about him. He was just so happy.
I thought a lot about him as I ran errands after my walk. Why does happiness elude so many of us?
Let’s be honest, the world is pretty messed up. The evening news is enough to make you want to crawl into bed and never leave. How can we possibly find happiness in this place?
I know I’m not the only one who wonders this. And happiness means different things to each of us.
I’ve lived my life under the assumption that absolutely anything is possible if you want it bad enough and that the only way to be happy is to go after it, no matter what. Even in my darkest period where I felt perpetually trapped in an overweight body, when I hid away from the world… I believed it. I still do. To me, it isn’t just something high school counselors say at career day. It’s a way of life that I hold in even higher regard today.
Maybe that’s why I felt connected to that older man who was dance-jogging around the lake tonight. (Dance-jogging is bound to be the next big workout craze and I call the rights to it. You read it here first.) He didn’t care what anyone thought; he was just out there having fun and living his life the way he wanted to.
I’ve done a lot of things that people have thought are crazy or impossible; ranging from chasing after a radio career, to attempting to write a book, to losing a hundred pounds, to writing music. All of these were or are among things that I find incredibly scary. But then again, isn’t that what makes them worthwhile? Who cares if I look like an idiot to some? Who cares if I fail? Life is about taking a flying leap and doing what makes us happy.
I’m extremely motivated by people and things that inspire me. That’s what makes me happy. Last night I had the opportunity to meet someone whose songwriting I’ve admired for a long time and I got pretty excited about it. Not in front of her, mind you. (And to be clear, not in the same way I got excited about Joey McIntire coming to the radio station when I was a producer.) But in this wow-your-music-got-me-through-some-tough-shit-and-it’s-pretty-fucking-awesome-to-meet-you kind of way.
The thing is, though, while I do find creative inspiration in a few “celebrities” (I use that term loosely, because the writers who I’m drawn to aren’t exactly mainstream), where I find my true inspiration for life is in the people who I walk through this world with — my family and friends. And random guys who dance-jog.