Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keep Running Boston

Keep Running Boston
Mark Nesmith
Pencil on Paper
8" x 10"

Like most people I was shocked and saddened when I first heard the news about the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  It's horrible to realize that there are people among us capable of such senseless atrocities.  With the media storm and investigation into the bombings in full swing everyone seems to want to know whether this was indeed an act of terrorism or just a random lunatic.  While I understand that the answer to that question could have repercussions in the national security arena, in the practical scheme of things it really makes no difference.  There is no explanation that can make sense of this tragedy.  For those killed or injured in the explosions and for their friends and families, nothing will make their loss easier to bear or understand.  My heart and my prayers go out to them all.

I've never run a marathon but it has crossed my mind a time or two.  I understand and respect the drive and focus required to take on such an undertaking.  Not quite two years ago I took up running.  I was overweight, had high blood pressure, and was very unhappy at work.  I had made some gradual changes in my life to improve my health and had managed to lose twenty pounds or so by adjusting my diet, but it wasn't enough.  One day I came to the realization that to really make a difference I needed to do something more drastic.  On Christmas Day of 2011 I started the Couch to 5K (C2K) program and never looked back.  In two months I was running three miles every other day. 

A few months later my life took an unforeseen turn for the worse.  When my marriage first started to fall apart I was a wreck.  My wife seemed to wake up one morning and decide she no longer wanted to be a part of my life.  She started disappearing and stopped spending time with me or our kids.  I tried my best to take up the slack and to keep things as normal as possible for my children, but I wasn't sleeping much and it all weighed heavily on me.  I got us into counseling but she quit after just a few weeks.  She stopped sleeping at home and left all care of our kids to me.  I wasn't sure how I would survive, but I knew I had no choice.  I had to be there for my kids.

My brother and sisters were amazing, but they were hours away, so on a daily basis I was very much alone with my children.  Ultimately I found two outlets: God and running.  Running had always been a chore to me, but somehow during those months I began to crave my time on the road.  It was like meditation.  My jumbled mind was free while I pounded out the miles and I would make it back home rejuvenated.  I often ran in the early morning or late at night while my kids were asleep.  Though there was no saving my marriage, in many ways running helped save me.  Now I'm 100 pounds lighter and feeling better than I have since I was a teenager.  Even more important than my health and new found sexy body (HA!), I found myself again and gained some much needed peace of mind.

When my kids were small one of their favorite movies was Finding NemoNemo's mom died tragically, and Nemo's dad Marlin never quite got over it.  He lived in fear and tried to keep Nemo sheltered away from the world.  Then one day Nemo was taken by a scuba diver.  Marlin is faced with two choices: give up his son forever or face his fears and get him back.  Against all odds this little clown fish navigates the ocean, surviving sharks and turtles and whales to make his way to Sydney where Nemo is living in a dentist's aquarium.  Along the way he makes a friend, the forgetful but hopelessly optimistic Dori whose mantra is "just keep swimming."   When Nemo hears that his dad is coming to rescue him, he makes his way out of the aquarium and reunites with his father.  However, the happy ending is quickly in peril when Dori is swept up in a fishing net along with hundreds of other fish.  Escape seems impossible, but little Nemo swims into the net and helps get all the fish swimming down together.  Divided and acting on their own the fish were easy prey, but united and working together with a common goal they were strong and manage to break the net and gain their freedom.

We the people of these United States are much like the fish in the net.  Sometimes our own personal agendas and desires keep us apart and weaken and divide our country.  But when we unite, as we did in the aftermath of the World Trade Center bombings on 9-11, or when faced with the evil of men like Hitler, we are the strongest nation the world has ever known.  The bombings in Boston were horrible and an act of cowardice.  The truth is that no matter what we do as a nation to protect ourselves, there will always be a few people who seek to cause harm to others and spread fear.  There are always going to be a few fanatics and lunatics among us, but I believe that the good in this world far outweighs the bad.  When faced with tragedies and atrocities like the bombings at the Boston Marathon, we all have two choices.  Like Nemo's father Marlin, we can choose to bury our heads in the sand and succumb to fear, or we can choose to just keep swimming, or in this case, keep running.  We must do what we can to prevent such atrocities from occurring, but more than that, we must keep living our lives, working together for a common good, move forward, and share what love and joy we find whenever we can.  Love hard while there's love to be had.  That's what being human is all about.

Keep running Boston, and I'll lace up my Nike's and run right along with you.  I hope the rest of you will join us.

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