Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why a Finish Line?

I was running at the exact time the explosion went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  I was outside, finishing a cold 4 mile run around the Inner Harbor.  My runs are times when I am most appreciative of my health, my life, and the ability to spend some time on myself.  That's the mindset of a runner.

I've run two marathons.  Neither were for great time, but I will never consider 26.2 anything short of a huge accomplishment.  If I were a runner in the Boston Marathon, I would be finishing around the time those runners were plodding off the last .2 of a very long journey.

I saw the flood of Facebook posts.  Despite normally having something to say about everything (uh, look around), I really had nothing to say about what happened.  Targetless anger.  Exasperation.  Helplessness.  Fear.  My own finish lines with my own exhaustion put in horrific context.

As weird, and potentially "off", as this is to say, I was most upset that this happened to "runners" and their supporters.  Maybe you need to have run a race, or helped support a friend/family member, to understand this, but there is something about the end of a long race that merits special appreciation.  It is the place where a person's mind, spirit, and body have invested themselves.  Each runner, individually and collectively, focused on that place.  To have violence there, indiscriminate explosive violence, just hurts.  It makes a distant horror somehow personal.

And that's selfish.  This is not about me.  It is about a collection of happy, proud, kind, celebratory people in Boston who had their lives disrupted for reasons that will never be a reasonable measure to what was lost.  There will never be a day when those injured or the families of those killed will be able to answer the question "why?"  We can offer our sympathy and support, as we should, but the violence exists separate from all of that. 

We try to find reason in retribution, but that's a self-assuaging illusion.  Retribution does not erase the harm.  More importantly, it does not protect any of us from being victimized from future violence.  It does not protect our loved ones.  It just offers the salve of "closure", and the suggestion of control.

It is ok to just be sad.  We don't need to find a ray of sunshine.  My heart swelled when I saw the Boston police rushing into action or heard stories of runners pushing past the finish line to the local hospital to donate blood...but it is ok to be sad.  It is healthy.  It can put things in context.  It can help us measure and reflect on our response.  We don't need to rush to rage or admiration. 

I love you guys and gals.  We're in this crazy thing together.

Have a great Tuesday doing what you love...even if you're sad.