Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dear Boston



Maybe it’s the defiance of a marathoner.

That manifestation of beating the odds to run 26.2 miles that fosters this desire to take what reality has given you, and turn it into what you choose. 

A task that seems easier said than done, after a race in which the reality of things greater than marathons seemed to win the day. A day with a finish line shrouded in smoke, bags and medals left in boxes, and more that I can't seem to bring myself to type.

It's a day none of us will forget, those of us who were there, and those who watched from afar.

And yet, there's that defiance, this need to say something, to find that which has not been said, to manipulate this present in order to dull the pain of the past. But I don't know what to say, so I find myself listening instead. Riding the roller coaster loop of news coverage, of repetition and the promise of breaking news. Reading Tweets and Facebook posts, press releases and official statements.

These many words, and stories blending together in my head, creating these common themes that run together. Themes of people who want desperately to turn the page, through action. This desire to create something to focus our communal energies. And this lingering thought, as I walk through my day, that no matter how old you are, you're a kid until you have kids, and then you're a parent. 

But though all them, through all these quotes, and invitations to honorary runs, and vigils, I hear in each this defiance. This resilience that seems to be at the heart of what we all default to, and one that I wonder if unto itself, really serves us. Cause as I see it, I keep coming back to the same thought.

That the opposite of hatred and violence, isn't merely resilience for the sake of defiance, it's the resilience for the sake of love. 

And what better way to describe your marathon.

Your City's 26.2 mile love letter, written one word at a time by each of the smiling, cheering faces passed along the course. A love letter read aloud word by word to each and every runner who runs by. A love letter I've been lucky enough to hear on three separate occasions, in 2010, 2012, and this past Monday.

I heard it in the never ending stream of anonymous high fives protruding from your abundant crowds. In the screams, willing me to pick back into a jog, and fight further against the 89 degree heat of 2012, as though they had been there training with me for the last three months. And in the way young boys and girls stand on curbs, from Hopkinton, to the Boylston, holding out small plastic cups of water to the strangers that run by.

And maybe that's what I've wanted to say to you this whole time. 

That maybe the answer to our uncertain desire to stand up and defy this violence, is the old running adage, "that sometimes the answer is not to speed up, but to slow down". That maybe the best response to such hatred, is not to do something new to stand up to it, but to acknowledge that you already have. That you as a City, and a marathon, need not prove anything in the days, and years to come to show that you are stronger than any act of terror, but simply to point back at what you have done to this point. To say, not that the marathon will be bigger than this tragedy, but that it already is.

That the true beauty of the Boston Marathon, is not in it's historical past, it's present elite competition, but rather in the kindness that it treats each and everyone who steps upon it. The spirit that it passes to complete strangers, without condition or pretense.

And though it hardly lessens the sadness of the events of Monday, it seems worth noting that the cowardly violence directed at hundreds, pales in comparison to the kindness, and love given to thousands. That of those opening their homes to runners stranded on the course, to the lines of people waiting to donate blood, and maybe most of all, to those who ran towards the smoke, not knowing what lay inside it.

So maybe this letter is more of a "Thank you" than anything else, a thank you with a promise attached to it.

A promise to tell those who were not there, that the real story was not the twelve seconds between explosions, but the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days that followed. A promise to stand up with strangers, to echo the kindness, the goodness, and the love that lives in your marathon.
 
A promise to never forget 2013, and to be there again in 2014.
 
Sincerely,
 
Daniel Colameco
Bib #1562


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