I was out on one of my usual training runs. It was a day of Hill repeats and I had retreated to the woods to get a good mileage on those ascents. As I went up and down the slopes, I noticed a middle aged man watching me intently. He looked quite fit for his age.
Now over the last 1 year, I prided on having mastered the hills compared to what I was earlier- a person who would stagger up those slopes gasping for breath. Regular training helped me overcome the phobia of hill running and here I was prancing up and down the ascents like an Impala in the wilderness of the savannas.
The hills repeats were going well and I got caught in the moment of sprinting downhill eager to show off my prowess to my ‘audience’.
The man continued watching as I glided down the slope. “Be careful. You will hurt yourself if you come down so fast.” I paused to take a sip of water and just shrugged.
“What does he know”, I thought.
I continued my repeats and as I came down again he remarked saying ” your form is not correct”
Now being a person who could not take instructions/ criticism from anyone other than my trainers, I began to feel slighted.
” So what did I do wrong”, I asked him.
” Here let me show you.” He said. He sprinted up and down the hill in a flawless and effortless manner.
” Lean back as you come down.” He stated firmly.
I just nodded numbly as I gaped at his perfect form.
Unable to contain myself I blurted out asking ” Sorry I don’t seem to have seen you around before. Are you a runner as well by any chance”.
” Yes I am”, he replied. “But I am not like you. ”
I began to feel puzzled and said. ” I don’t understand sir.”
He just smiled, lifted his track pants a little and pointed to his feet.
To my horror I saw that he was amputed.
” Don’t look so shocked”. He said. ” I used to be fast and furious once upon a time. But one day I tumbled down the hills and that accident cost me my limb. However thanks to advanced technology and will power I am still able to run and I am known as what you call an amputee runner.
I run long distances and take part in many marathons. So yes I am a runner but not like you. That’s why I kept telling you to be careful while coming down as I didn’t want you to go through what I did. ”
I stood there standing in awe as my respect for the man grew double fold. Ashamed and humbled at the same time, I regretted having misunderstood him as an interfering nosy parker. It turned out that he was only trying to caution me for my own well being.
” I must go. See you around. Make sure you don’t break that leg.” His eyes twinkled and I watched him walk away into the woods.
I learned that no matter how big you think you are, there is always someone bigger and better than you. So it’s important to be humble always.
It was a ‘Bhim meets Hanuman’ moment for me as I went home- a humbled soul.
( Bhim- a pandava prince finds a gigantic monkey’s tail in his way and gets infuriated when the monkey asks him to move his tail. Being a powerful warrior, Bhim was surprised to find that he was unable to lift a mere monkeys tail. It was then when he realised that this was no ordinary monkey but the mighty Hanuman himself. Bhim is humbled and seeks his forgiveness. Hanuman later tells Bhim to never underestimate his opponent.)
This is a humbling lesson not only for the Pandava prince but for all of us as well to have our feet firmly on the ground no matter how much success we attain in terms of popularity, accolades or awards.
As the saying goes ‘pride always comes before a fall.’