So I wrote the post about my brother, which I needed to do, and afterward, I needed to get out and stretch my legs and my mind and my spirit. I decided to return to our local hiking spot, thinking that there couldn’t possibly be an incident like the last one. There wasn’t…..this is not one of my usual Hollywood stories. Sorry.
Anyway, I made my way up to the gate at Runyon Canyon, feeling heavy and exhausted, but happy to be outside, untethered from my computer and my isolation. I am not in good shape, so the walk is a challenge for me; 2 miles up hill to the top. I was determined to make it.
When I got to the gate, I turned up my music (there is no way I could make it to the top without the motivation of Terrance Trent Darby, Siouxsie and a dash of Stevie, among others), and started slowly up the last and steepest mile of the walk. I noticed a young woman in front of me, long blonde hair, dressed in black shorts and tank top with a sweatshirt tied around her waist. There was a brightness to her step and I decided I would try to keep her in my sights all the way to the top. She didn’t seem in a hurry and occasionally stopped to look at the view of the canyon spreading out beneath us, dusty green and rolling. I took those opportunities to linger in the view on my part of the path, sometimes a bit too long and I would lose her, but I always found her again.
When she got to the foot of the last and most treacherous bit of the climb, she stopped until I had almost reached her, and as I approached, she smiled and started gracefully and easily up the hill. I began my own climb, much more slowly than her, but keeping her in my sight, until she reached the top and disappeared across a wavy dirt path, onto the last stretch of the hike,.
At the end of the dirt path, there is a small hill leading to a bench and views of the Hollywood Sign and Downtown LA, stretching all the way to the ocean. When you hit those views, you know you have reached the very top. I was almost to the top, labored breathing and sore legs, and I saw her coming toward me, joy in her smile, and she gestured to give me a high-five. I paused, nervous, but then smiled back at her and gave her a high five. My first ever high five. She couldn’t have possibly known that I was sad or how much I needed that random act of kindness and encouragement. I don’t think I knew, but as I walked away from her, smiling and grateful, tears came to my eyes and I realized that kindness really is the greatest of all gifts.
I will never forget her.