I'm a runner. I'm sitting on my sofa in my 13.1 shirt from the first half marathon I did in Chicago in 2010. There's something strange about putting your body through a longer distance run. My husband was just questioning my sanity the other day when I said I was considering another half this year, the Chicago CCFA Team Challenge event, after I'd sworn them off after my 2nd one last year as being painful, torturous events that only a fool would do. I have no aspirations to do 26.2, and have great reverence for those who do.
Thinking about organized running events and the finish lines along the chute that you pass into after crossing the little speed bump that will register your time, they're always packed with people cheering you on. Complete strangers patting you on the back with their words of encouragement, handing you a bottle of water, and your finishing medal. The feelings you experience when you finish a race are usually a swirling mess of pain, relief, pride, and euphoria with a side of sweat running in your eye. Why wouldn't you want to do it again?
Yesterday that usual swirling mess of emotions included terror, confusion, shock, and hysteria. An 8 year old boy is dead, his sister maimed and mother gravely injured. Two others taken before their time. Hundreds injured. And for what? We don't know, yet, who was responsible. What their twisted motive was.
If I had to guess, I saw that Fred Rogers quote about looking for the helpers at least 20 times in my Facebook feed. Fred was a wise man. I grew up watching him put on his shoes and sweater, feed his fish, and send his trolley to the land of make-believe. He died in 2003. I can't help but think he'd be pleased that his words are serving as a source of comfort as our nation faces yet another tragedy. Fred's legacy was his desire to help society by teaching children to be happy and productive citizens, to try to offset the negative in the land of reality with lessons of friendship, good-will, compassion, and empathy (all vital to our Emotional IQ) in the land of make-believe.
When things like this happen, my mind goes to figuring out how I can move to New Zealand or perhaps somewhere in Scandinavia. In my reading about Fred Rogers' life, I came across Resolution 111, which was passed by the US House of Representatives (back when things passed the House of Representatives), honoring Mr. Rogers and
His legendary service to the improvement of the lives of children, his steadfast commitment to demonstrating the power of compassion, and his dedication to spreading kindness through example.
The reality is I'm not going to move half way around the world any time soon, so I need to find something more productive to do. Because terrorism is well beyond my control and is a problem I directly cannot solve by making it go away. During these times, we look for what we do have control over.
I'm going to channel my inner Mr. Rogers every day with my young daughter to prepare her for this crazy world the best I can. I'm going to continue to help those who come my way professionally to deal with their personal struggles. I'm going to buy my friends a beer, laugh, and not live in fear of the unknown.
And I'm going to run.