I am not sure how to begin this story or what I will say other than it started with a run. You might think me a runner when I start like this or maybe even a writer, but at this stage I have yet to call myself either.
Once at yoga (something that I am very ‘good at’ if you can be good at yoga) the teacher said that we don’t do things we aren’t good at. I wanted to disagree but doubted in class I would have had much clout with this argument given I was doing something I was good at. So I kept silent but thought, “that isn’t true, I run.”
I am not a runner. I run. I run 5ks and a few other longer races now and then. My time is my time, but real runners would chuckle silently if I called myself a runner. Or maybe they would just say, “sure, yes. Keep plugging along.”
I don’t really want to talk about running though. I have another story that might be alittle more interesting or heartfelt or maybe even personal.
I don’t watch the news but know that Black Lives Matter and I think “Yes! AND all Lives Matter” but I don’t know if anyone is listening so I won’t start there. There are terrible things happening and I am sad for both sides and wish that there weren’t sides and that people didn’t take sides. And that life could be good and fair and right. But then I guess we wouldn’t be here. And life wouldn’t be life.
As a mental health professional I have the unique position to hear both sides of the story and all I can say is we have a problem here. A disconnection. A terrible chasm that is getting worse. Like a landslide that is slipping out of control. Some might even dramatically say our country is in trouble. It might even be falling and many of us are helplessly and wordlessly standing by and watching.
When I get quiet I remember what I say to clients who have gotten angry with me or are on the defense. I say, “same team.” As I wag my finger to and fro “You and I are on the same team.” “Lets start over”…and we begin again.
Ok, the clay is coming together and it's taking shape…The gun went off (not really) I just inched towards the starting line at today’s 5k and soon enough I was puffing along and weaving (as I love to do-I am a weaver) through the crowd (my starts are always good!). After awhile with my “CALM” mantra in check I started to get into the groove of the run. It was just me, running it seemed until I butted up against a very tall African American man in front of me. He seemed to be clicking along at a steady pace and at first I was memorized by his footsteps. After a bit though, I got impatient and frustrated as I do when anyone is directly in front of me. With effort I zigzagged around him and he must have been surprised as he picked up his pace and the next thing I knew there he was in front of me again. I thought well, my pace isn’t so bad, right? He isn’t pushing a stroller or chatting with another like he’s out for a leisurely walk--I can be behind him, right? So even though he was directly in front of me blocking my view I just kept running right behind him. We started to turn a corner and there was a police officer holding back traffic for us and the officer looked weary. I couldn’t help think of the chasm that now exists. As I was watching the man’s footsteps, and then looked up as he gave a big wave and said to the officer, “Thank you for your help today!” The officer beamed a big smile as he waved back. And in that moment my heart and it seemed everyone’s opened just a little. And maybe the chasm closed for just a minute.
I would like to say that at that moment I surged ahead with spiritual steam beaming me forward propelling me on past the gentleman, but that isn’t what happened. I plodded along, even slowing down as I do mid race. I even walked up the next hill grabbing a much-needed glass of water my only thoughts then on finishing the race and maybe beating last year’s time.
Near the end, as I ran/walked up the last hill, I am pretty sure, I caught a glimpse of the man now way ahead of me. I silently cheered him on as my steps thumped along. “You go dude. Lead the Way. Rock on.”
That is what I was thinking as I sculpted this story.