In this season of hope, with a new divided government about to take over in Washington, Americans agree on one thing – and not much else, that the nation is more divided than at any time since the 1960s, maybe even the 1850s. 

Yet in this divisive political time in which identity politics has become the defining order, we still find that runners as a group remain human beings first before ever identifying as right-wing, left-wing, or centrist. It’s as if to say, ‘if we have this one thing in common, then all else becomes secondary.  Not immaterial, mind you, just less consequential, for at bottom this is who I truly am, and this is all I need to know about you to appreciate who you really are, as well.’

Stripped of their everyday, workaday costumes and clothed in the simple togs of motion, runners discover a unity through the pursuit of focused purpose, whether fast, slow or moderate in that pursuit. The same process unifies soldiers in combat, and other similarly focused groups. Perhaps that can serve as a lesson for Washington D. C.

But then we recall that people can only run a couple of hours a day at most. And though running leaves behind a deep, banking feeling of well-being and goodwill, there still remain many more hours in the day to attend. Now what? We can’t all be Camille Herron and run for 24 hours. 

People who have lost meaning in their life meander along without either an emotional roadmap or the interior resources needed to bolster them in times of crisis. They have no place of refuge, no safe space designed to reorder the disorienting.  Perhaps this is why so many have fallen into the accessible traps of consumerism or pharmaceutical abuse.  But though numbing the existential pain, such practices never address the way ahead.

The hope, as always, is that the lessons learned on the run – discipline, dedication, humility, resilience, etc. – will  provide that roadmap and carry over into our wider, more sedentary lives. And in so doing, relieve us of our previous inelasticity and more bedeviling prejudices. 

Knowing that the best we can be can be achieved by the simple act of placing one foot in front of another also allows us to believe the same truth of others, with each stride a fleeting glimpse of what is on the way to becoming what could be. 

May everyone enjoy a most Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year ahead.


6 thoughts on “WHAT COULD BE

  1. Thank you for this message. Hope almost seems heroic at this moment. Running is the only context in which I have acquaintances who are conservative. I value that because we do have to share this world, one way or another. Better that there be a few ways in which we can interact on the same footing–pun intended.

  2. Thanks for the hopeful message, and on Christmas Eve! I would sacrifice 3 minutes off my marathon p.r. to write like you. It’s been my experience that running is a hobby best enjoyed by those with plenty of disposable income and time to burn. Our demographic is as red as crimson. I can only wish that those I see running in Central Park on Spring mornings are a melting pot of left, right and center. Working stiffs just eeeking out a living don’t have the luxury for such frivolousness. And don’t get me started on bucket listers who flit around the globe doing destination races. Yes, we may have a shared affinity for running, but to dismiss where we each stand on love thy neighbor or how we treat the least of our brothers, as secondary, would be out of order. Here’s to the day where rising waters truly lift all of us and I can look behind me at the start of the Berlin marathon and see more than stockbrokers and lawyers (not that there’s anything wrong with them!). Belated Happy Festivus for the rest of us.

    1. Kevin,

      Experience is the best teacher. I guess I was referring to racers as much as runners. And yes, it is frivolous and time consuming, and a luxury for those of means. Gets the job done though. Merry, merry.


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