Column: Miles And Memories
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 02:09
Last weekend, I ran a half marathon. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not just mentioning this because I want you to think I’m cool (although you can feel free to assume that if you really want to). No, I promise that I have a point to all of this. At least, I think I do.
I guess what the race boils down to for me is one word: diversity. That’s probably a confusing way to put it, but if you hear me out, I swear it makes sense. It’s just annoying because “diversity” is such a loaded term at BC. Don’t worry, I’m not here to talk about the percentages of BC’s racial and religious makeup. No one wants to hear that. What I want to talk about instead is diversity as I understand it: not superficial distinctions, but the beautiful uniqueness of every person.
I’m new to this whole running very long distances thing, so I’m not sure if it’s something that usually happens to runners, but you kind of get attached to the people who run around you. It’s like when you’re driving on the highway behind a car for a couple hours and it suddenly gets off and you’re sad. You get invested in it. Just like that, you really get to know the people around you when you run. You get to see their diversity.
Take for example, the man who I called the super dad. By mile nine, I was ready to give out, but this one man runs past me. I guess I should probably also mention the fact that he was pushing his son with cerebral palsy in a stroller the whole time. And while I was angry and exhausted, wondering why my iPod decided to endlessly repeat a song called “The Wrong Direction,” all those two could do was smile. The boy smiled, listening to his iPod and cruising along, while his father smiled, projecting them forward at a remarkable pace. Some kids and their dads have catch in the backyard, these two had the race. But they had more than that. You could tell it from their smiles. They had each other, and for the moment, that was all that mattered.
Then there was the woman in the red hat, with her premature wrinkles. There was the man with his dog, trotting beside him the whole way. There was the septuagenarian. There was the group of girls with the cool shirts. There were two of my best friends there for me at the race just as they are for everything else. There was a snapshot of the world in all its diversity and all its beauty. And when I say beauty, I mean it. If you took some sort of class picture of humanity it would be a kind of mosaic, billions of pieces each distinct from the last, making up something purely beautiful.
That’s what makes any attempt to break the mural so terrible. That’s what made me want to run so much in the first place, after the hatred of the bombing last April. I just wanted to do something about it, so I started running a lot.
I guess what I’m starting to see is that we can always do something in our own diverse way. You see, we run as we live, bearing the burden of all the things that hurt us. Our kid may not be able to have a catch and dogs don’t live nearly as long as they should, but we don’t have to bear that pain alone. I may carry my fears with me, but those two friends and so many others have helped lighten the load. And I think that kind of real friendship is what we live for. After all, we may be diverse, but we’re never alone.