Years ago, my brother-in-law stood in front of the ocean looking at little dots of energy present in the universe that he referred to as prana. I squinted my eyes and tried to see what had him so mesmerized. Unable to see it, he laughed and told me to place a finger in front of my eyes and to look beyond it. I did and was fascinated and amazed that so much beauty could be found beyond my original focus – how valuable that lesson has been in my life!
Over the years I have used that lesson many times. Most recently, I ran a marathon which qualified me for Boston. Although I am elated to have finished it in my goal time, I am oblivious to the qualification. Most people then question my indifference claiming that this prestigious and centennial marathon is the goal of all who commit to running the distance.
I don’t deny that I share with all the thrill of pushing the limits of my endurance for 26 miles, however, when I commit to running a marathon, I am embracing the competition with the most difficult competitor of all, the one who, during the weeks of training, tells me I will fail and the one that, during the last 10 miles of the race, accentuates every discomfort in my body, making me question if I will be able to finish; that ruthless competitor is myself. But running a marathon is even more than overcoming my own insecurities; it is about overcoming physical limitations as well.
I have not reserved a room in old Bean town because, to me, running a marathon is the culmination of my defiance in training a body that has refused to give up after hard bouts with illness and that has bounced back after them. Running a marathon is savoring the fact that I run because I can, because I exist, and the marathon reminds me that, ironically, that alertness is the gift my battles have left behind.
So, just like that day at the beach, when I cross that finish line, my eyes look beyond the clock and its qualifying time. Beyond celebrating any victory is my gratitude to the Divine above me, and beyond that clock that provides proof of my physical accomplishment is the awareness of the miracle that today is my existence.
2 years ago