Last weekend I ran in one of my favorite road races. Maybe it’s the season and all the holiday decorations that make it feel so special. Or maybe it’s the funny and festive costumes that people not only wear, but run in. Perhaps it’s the brass band, the women drummers or the dance troup that line the course. Maybe it’s the people that stand on the side of the road with bells and other festive holiday accoutrements cheering you on. Perhaps, it’s a combination of all of the above.
And for sure, personally, this year there was the deep, deep appreciation I felt for my body for being able to run after having not been well enough to run for a couple of weeks.
Whatever it is on any given year, there is such an overwhelming feeling of goodwill that each year as I cross the finish line, I burst out crying. With joy. With a deep appreciation for being alive. With the knowing that this is what I want to feel more of when I am around other people.
This year the words from a Steve Winwood song, “Bring me a higher love” were blasting over the loud speaker as I finished. It felt so perfect and so expressive of what I was feeling. Being out there with people of all types, all shapes and sizes, in a harmonious way, reminds me of what is possible when we are all running our own pace, in the company of others, while we all focus in the same direction.
It doesn’t matter what you look like, what gear you have, how fast or slow you are, how fit or not you are, or even, believe it or not, whether or not you “finish.” Instead, it’s about being together, as is. Side by side. No questions asked. No judgments meted out.
We could do this. We can do this. But it will take each and every one of us making a decision to see the one before you, next to you and behind you, as worthy of your appreciation. Worthy of your admiration of how great they are doing, no matter what it looks like. This is not to excuse bad behavior, but instead to acknowledge that running the race of Life can be arduous and at times, overwhelming, and that no matter what it looks like from the outside, we all really are doing the very best we can in any given moment.
What if we decided to have the wisdom to greet each other with a kind of higher love? As opposed to expecting the worst. Or looking for flaws. Or greedily confirming our inherent judgments and biases in an attempt to feel “right.”