What are the chances?

I set out for my run this morning as the snow began to fly, and the wind was picking up. I had 3 stamped envelopes in my hand to deposit in the mailbox and I was thinking about how far I have come. All the way back to my first marathon, after which I said I thought I was more of a half marathoner. I may have uttered the words “never again”….

I passed an older lady bagging leaves, helped by a younger man – maybe her grandson, maybe just a helpful friend or neighbor. A few strides past them I felt something on the bottom of my shoe, instinctively I pulled up with a few hops. Somehow I knew it wasn’t just a stone. I looked and saw a large thumbtack in the sole of my shoe. I tried to pull it out but it was pretty well stuck! I sat down, not wanting to lose my balance and step on the thing more, to work on getting it out. As I sat – taking off my shoe – on the sidewalk, beginning to get a little mad at the world – at the pain in my foot, the negligence of a nail being on the sidewalk….maybe even the negligence of the lady for having a nail on her sidewalk – thinking to myself “What are the chances?”. Of all the sidewalks in all the land, how could there be a nail – point up – right where I placed my foot! Right at that moment the lady turned and saw me sitting on the sidewalk and assumed I had fallen. She rushed to help me. Immediately my feelings of blame, and feeling sorry for myself dissolved. I explained that I hadn’t fallen, but had a nail in my shoe. She immediately tried to pull it out – I told her not to hurt her fingers – but she kept pulling. Then the younger man came to help and took the shoe and pulled out the nail. I put my shoe back on, picked up my mail and thanked them for their help.

As I ran off I thought, what are the chances? Not the chances of the bad fortune of the nail, but the chances of the good fortune of the help and caring spirits. 

As I arrived at a crossing a few minutes later, my mail safely deposited in the box but my foot still throbbing slightly from the pressure of the nail and waiting for the light to change I heard the sound of a horn from a passing F-150. I looked up to see a friend. And again thought, what are the chances? The chances of us both being at the same light, at just the same moment?

Continuing on, I choose to take the path through the woods the trail crosses a few wooden bridges which were slippery covered in ice. About halfway a walker headed in the opposite direction took the time to warn me that the next bridge was icy. I thanked him and headed on. When I reached the bridge I choose my footing more carefully than I otherwise may have and hugged the side of the bridge where the sun had melted the ice a little more, I looked up and saw a Doe very close and not running away. It was so calm that I was able to fumble my phone out of my pocket, and take a photo. Again I thought what are the chances?


All these things made me think of a recent Jillian Michaels podcast that I listened to where she interviewed Dr Rick Hanson – a neuroscientist – about his principal of hardwiring happiness – he explains it here. The basic idea is to focus on the good things that happen on a daily basis instead of bad – the proverbial nail in the shoe – and using it to change your brain! Pretty interesting stuff.

As I recrossed the bridge towards the end of my run I passed a couple of runners just setting out – I paid it forward and shouted a quick “watch out for the bridge”.

What are the chances. 😉




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