So a few years ago I had this dream, a nightmare really.
I dreamt that I was in the apartment that my brother and I were sharing at the time. It was the middle of the night, but I knew it wasn't just the two of us inside. There was an intruder. An unwelcome guest who wished us harm. A dangerous assassin who's sights were squarely set on me. An enemy hell bent on destroying me.
And that's when I saw him.
That's when I saw the kangaroo.
And just like that he sprung to life, hopping furiously towards my bedroom door. I threw it shut just as he arrived, slamming my weight into the door, pushing back kick after kick from the wretched marsupial, each blow stronger than the one before. And just as his last kick knocked the door off the hinges... silence.
After a few seconds I peered out into the darkness, spotting the furry bastard bouncing around the kitchen. Then, in an instant, I noticed my brother sleeping soundly, his bedroom door wide open. I surveyed the situation quickly, his vulnerable state, a miracle that the foul beast hadn't noticed my brother the sitting duck.
My first thought is that I knew what I must do. I must leave the safety of my room, risk the open hallway, and secure his door.
And then, my second thought...
And with that, I shut the door.
I woke up the next morning with two lingering feelings...
The first being, no more swedish fish before bed.
And the second being this odd feeling of guilt at the way subconscious so quickly abandoned my brother in the face of this Australian assassin.
Which brings me to what I've been thinking about over this past weekend, and the point of this blog.
Cause the more I think about it, the more it seems to be true.
That it's not that from a lack of principles that we get ourselves in trouble, but rather from a lack of using the principles that we already have that gets us in trouble.
But I guess I should explain.
You see, this weekend didn't exactly go as many of us had planned. A Saturday morning that was supposed to be filled with hydration, and pre-race meals turned into a lazy morning of snooze buttons and cold pizza. An afternoon run, once destined to be a 17 mile tempo race, instead became a 17 second mental debate that ended with "Eh, I'll run tomorrow".
Such was the case of the race that wasn't.
As threatening thunderstorms and record heat indexes caused the City of Philadelphia, in consultation with their Public Health Board, to conclude that this year's 20in24 race could not go on due to safety concerns. And there it was, removed from the hands of the men and women of Back on My Feet who had spent a years worth of time, energy and so much more into planning this race. And just like that, the race was cancelled.
Thus beginning our lesson in disappointment, or rather, our lesson in dealing with disappointment.
And while the cancellation of a race is hardly near the top of a list of tragic occurrences, it did get me thinking about how I, and I guess the rest of us, face such disappointments, or bumps in the road, be them loss, crisis, or even kangaroos. It got me thinking about the ways in which practicing what we preach can fly out the window at the first sign of resistance.
And, somehow this seemed like a relevant topic to discuss, as disappointment of a race that was cancelled spilled over into the realm of social media. As people took to their keyboards, typing posts ranging from understanding and gratitude for a difficult decision, to out right anger and blame. Some posted about returning to run next year, while others resolved to congregate and run as planned.
And somewhere in this dizzying pinball exchange of facebook posts (posts I should know by now are best avoided) about the spirit of a runner, as one that can never be stopped by weather or anything else. I couldn't help but wonder if in this bravado we had somehow lost sight of what so many of us believe running is, and what it can be.
I guess I'd like to think that running isn't merely about risking, or fighting, but rather about something positive, and more over, something that is greater than just one person. I'd like to think that the gifts one gets from running, are gifts that are meant to be shared for a collective good. I'd like to think that races are just as much about the person who crosses the finish line last, as much as the person who crosses first.
And its for those reasons that my better angels tell me that the decision to cancel the race was the right one.
So with that, I'll choose to end this blog, the same way that Back on My Feet ends each of their morning runs, with a prayer who's words I too often say, instead of hear.
"God, grant me the serenity,
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference"
And to say "thank you" to Back on My Feet's staff, in the face of resistance, for their care, efforts, and above all, their wisdom to know the difference.