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.