Random thoughts while running

More beautiful scenery from Boquete – this is looking up at the waterfall

I love the random tangents my mind takes when I run! No really deep thoughts (“what’s so great about really deep thoughts” — I bet my daughter and sisters know what song that’s from). Instead, there are all sorts of odds and ends that run the gamut from last week’s Nike comparison, to  “Wow, my husband’s calves going up these hills could be the model for an anatomy drawing” , to “If I had chickens, I wouldn’t let them play in the road” (good advice to Melanie,  and her roommates Sarah and Sarah, who just got chickens), to “I could use a lemonade right now”.

The lemonade thought was actually triggered by a little boy who came up to me a few weeks ago and said “Give me a dollar?” I was shocked. Begging isn’t something you see around here, everyone knows everyone, and it’s just not done.  This was as we were going through an agricultural area, where there are several Native Indian families (Ngobe Bugle)  living in “homes” that appeared to be made just of plywood, no glass in the windows, not even sure if they had running water, because I saw someone washing clothes with an old fashioned scrub board, using what appeared to be runoff water from the mountain. Even so, I suspect the parents would have been mortified if they knew what their son had done.

Really, what that kid should have done is set up an old fashioned lemonade stand.  Or even just a water station, although both would bring up questions about water being boiled, etc. Certainly we used to see that sort of thing in the US frequently — although that now seems to be as culturally unacceptable as begging.

Business seemed to be booming for young entrepreneurs in the US about 15 years ago, at least in part, I am sure, because of a popular book that suggested buying whatever it is kids were selling roadside would make you smile.  I read that and thought “How sweet, I’m going to do that!”

Not my pic — credit to the cityofsalem.net. Aren’t they cute?? I picked this picture because their attitudes remind me a little of my sons Kevin and Jay when they were this age.

Just a few days later, on a sweltering August day, as I was driving home from work, I saw three kids with a lemonade stand in their front yard. Again — so sweet.  I saw another driver getting in his car with a funny kind of smile on his face — the kind that comes with doing a kind deed for a child perhaps?  I stopped too,  forked over my 25 cents, and walked away, Dixie cup in hand.   It did feel good to do something nice for someone.  Right before I got to the car, one of the kids said “Oh, you need to leave the cup.  It’s the only one we have.”  I realized then what the other guy had been smiling about. The book was right. It made me smile too.

MARK SAYS:

What Valerie refers to as random tangents, I call day dreams.  Surely, running is a fantastic vehicle that uniquely facilitates wandering of the mind.  I seldom remember my dreams after a night of sleep so I am really unsure how active my mind is at night.  On the other hand, for me, day dreaming has always been an art.  This would clearly, and easily, have been confirmed by the nuns and lay teachers who had the challenge of teaching me in grade school those many years ago.  They often attributed my “spaciness” to a lack of sleep brought on by my commitment to serve as an altar boy at 6 a.m.  mass every day.

However, I do not, and never did attribute it to a lack of sleep.  My mind totally began to wander in class the moment that a topic, not to my liking, came up. Likewise, my mind wanders incessantly whenever I am running. Like Valerie, my day dreaming is not very deep.  No elaborate, wildly imaginative, especially creative thoughts, just basic random things, consisting of many diverse topics, flowing in and out of my head.  But, I do believe that our experiences in Panama have opened up new channels for an ever increasing level of mundane thoughts and comparisons.    For instance, here are some of my random thoughts in a classification that I categorize as “Everything is Relative.” 

Quiet corner of the Park

The center of activity in most Central American towns is a park which typically lies somewhere in the middle of town.  Now, we are hardly talking about the vastness of Central Park, Lincoln Park or my favorite, of course, Fairmount Park.   No, we are talking about the size, maybe, of one small city block with a gazebo, a fountain, and some benches   Nonetheless, it is where townsfolk often congregate, people watch and just chill out.

  •  Related Random Thought:  When I was young and I would see older folks hanging out in parks, sometimes feeding pigeons, I would often feel a sense of sadness for them.  In my mind, I sensed that they were experiencing an undesirable level of loneliness.  Now, as I walk, or run through town and pass the park, I often feel a sense of envy for the seniors that are able to kick back and while away part of their day by just taking in their surroundings in a peaceful serene manner.  Actually, I am now one of those people.  Of course, there are not many pigeons here so it does make it much easier to enjoy!

Watching the skateboarders in the gazebo

There are several laundromats within a few square miles of where we are currently living.  We have used one of them but most of the time we haul our laundry on a five minute walk up a hill and use our landlady’s washing machine.  However, she does not have a clothes dryer so, for the first time in my life, I am regularly hanging clothes outside on a line to dry.

  •  Related Random Thought:  Every once in a while, when I was young, our family’s washer or dryer would go on the fritz.  This lead to one of my least favorite chores.  Okay, as my siblings can attest, I did not really have any favorite chores, but I really disliked loading clothes into a wagon and wheeling them around the corner to the nearest laundromat.  The only palatable part of that excursion was hoping that you had an extra nickel for some candy out of the vending machine.  Wow, a pack of Chuckles sounds really good about now! Here in Panama, in our current circumstances, hauling laundry is just a normal part of life.

I have never liked cars.  In my mind, they have always been nothing more than a necessary evil to get from one place to another.  My lack of technical capability in diagnosing , and fixing, mechanical issues with automobiles probably plays a huge part in my dislike of them.  Sitting behind the wheel for hours and hours commuting to and from work has also diminished my appreciation of them.  So far, living in Panama without the obligation of a car, insurance, maintenance, etc. has actually been quite liberating.

  •  Related Random Thought:  Overall, in our limited experience to date, Panamanians have proven to be quite hospitable, easy going people.  Until, in many cases, they get behind the wheel of an automobile.  Many of them could certainly qualify as New York City taxi drivers.  For a country where the overall pace is much closer to Alabama than New York they are in nothing but a hurry once they are operating a car, truck, bus, taxi, motorcycle, tractor or any other motor vehicle.  At least most of the horses we encounter on the streets do move at a leisurely pace!
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