There are extraordinary people who walk among us.  They hide their super powers behind glasses and rarely do we see their capes because they blend in with the rest of us.  (Who gives Clark Kent or Peter Parker a second look?)  They are not celebrities hiring publicists to create & manage rumor & scandal to keep them in the spotlight.  The superheroes I reference lead unassuming, quiet lives.  They look a lot like you & me.

You’ve met them.  You usually feel energized by their presence & walk away feeling as if the whole world opened up & is yours to experience.  That every dream you dream is possible & within your grasp.

I met two last night at a holiday running club party.  Although one had a more profound effect on how I want to live my life, the other has done some amazing things.

Runnerboy grew up how I imagine most boys grow up: doing things just because he thought they were interesting or fun, would leave behind bruises or scars but also fascinating stories.  Like deciding to run the Wonderland Trail – a 93 mile trail that circumnavigates the base of Mt Rainier – as quickly as possible to beat the current record.  He ran it unassisted with only a small backpack of tortillas, some fruit & one water bottle he refilled in creeks he found along the trail.  He did beat that record in the mid 70’s, running the trail in 27 hours (+/- time…his memory was fading), only to lose the record three weeks later.

Wonderland Trail in red

He has run the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail, climbed Mt Rainier and numerous other adventures.  He also just started running again after an accident that left him in a wheelchair for six months, on crutches for an additional six months and a year relearning how to walk.  This summer, he is going back to walk the Wonderland Trail.

And then there is Claudia.  buttahcup & I attended the party together and both walked away in awe of this woman.  She is who I aspire to be when I grow up.  Claudia is a beautiful, retired woman in her late 50’s, early 60’s.  She has laugh lines that could tell you stories.  She has also walked the Wonderland Trail.  She has jumped out of an airplane.  She has climbed Half Dome, the last portion on a staircase, as she described, left me short of breath & on edge.  Although she mentioned fear on certain climbs, as soon as she did them, she was that much stronger for conquering her next adventure.

I love that she still does the crazy stuff.  That her age isn’t a factor in how she spends her time (although she has a lot more time to spend doing these things).  She is still testing her mettle even after all these years.

You’ll never hear their stories on the news or read about them in books or magazines but these are the people that make life interesting.  Your superheroes will be different than my superheroes.  The stories that inspire you to be bigger & better than your current self will be different from mine.

For me, meeting these two was perfect timing… kismat… serendipitous… an early Christmas present.  They are a living testament of lives well lived.  More important to remember as I start my annual review process.  More on that next week.