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Marathon

I’ve been thinking a lot about marathons. Oh… I am not planning on running one any time soon … or even training to run one. I have nothing but respect for those of you who possess the dedication and endurance to train for and then actually run a marathon, but I tend to save up my running energy just in case I suddenly need to escape imminent danger. So, as a million different internet memes say in a million different ways: if you see me running, you should probably start running, too, because it means that there’s something pretty badass scary hot on my heels.

No, my random thoughts on marathons began while I was at the hospital watching my daughter, my Sun, sleep after a thoroughly taxing night. In between the crying, trying to process frightening words born from pain, the driving back and forth, donning a mask of smiles for Little Man, and the feelings of hope tainted by total despair … there were moments of relative silence. There were moments when my mind floated above the rhythmic beeping of monitors and followed a path … any path … in an effort to detach and scrounge for some source of energy.

During one of those silences, I remembered reading about a discussion on the idea that “life is a marathon, not a sprint”. My mind latched onto the thread and, since I was completely devoid of force at the time, I let it go.

Since then, the thought has been pinging around in the back of my brain, asking to be explored. My Sun is home again, healing before we can tackle the why. We are on to the next challenge (or adventure … http://themoonthesunandlittleman.com/2020/01/07/mindreset/) , and back tending to some that remained suspended, politely awaiting our return.

Is life a marathon? Maybe that description is a bit too pessimistic for my taste. Marathons are grueling. Besides, life is not that consistent or measured. Sometimes it’s a race … a marathon, even. Sometimes it’s a saunter or a dance. And, sometimes the waters are delightfully still.

That said … as of late, we seem to be caught in a marathon. I have to believe that there is a finish line somewhere up there, a transition (dare I hope for some of those still waters?), but for now we just need to keep going … at our best, steadiest pace.

To successfully complete a marathon, you need to dig deep. Not everybody who starts, finishes. There are a million different websites that tell you how to prepare for a marathon, too. In my online wanderings, I even saw some offering advice on the best way to take advantage of the drink stations along the way.

Which brings me to something about marathons that has always caught my eye: the number of people gathered to watch … to cheer and encourage … and the people volunteering, handing out little cups of water at measured intervals along the route. Not everyone takes a drink at every station, but there they stand, arms extended … just in case.

Imagine a marathon with no spectators and, even worse, no volunteers or drink stations. How sad would that be? Each runner would have to carry his or her own bottle to hydrate and would have to rely totally and completely upon his or her own inner reservoir of strength and resolve… I am willing to bet that there would be a lot fewer runners crossing that finish line.

What’s wrong with relying totally and completely on one’s own inner reservoir of strength and resolve? you may ask.

It sounds kind of brave, you may be thinking.

After all, God won’t ever give you more than you can handle. Right?

I see this affirmation a lot, and I have to say that I disagree … at least with the way it has been interpreted. Dig deep! You’ve got this! You can handle this! You are strong!

In my own personal experience, I have most definitely been given way more than I can handle… At times, the weight has been bone crushing. It has left me breathless… on my knees. More than a few times, my inner reservoir of strength and resolve has run powder dry.

How am I still here, then? How am I still running? Because, I have absolutely been burdened with way more than I can handle … by myself.

And … anyone who knows me, knows that I do not like to ask for help. I know it’s straight up stupid, and a million different people could tell me in a million different ways that asking for help does not, in any way shape or form, put into question a person’s inner strength. Hell! I am pretty sure I have said those very same words to other people. Let’s just say it is something I’m working on.

The wonderful thing that I have discovered, even amidst all the negativity floating around out there and recent direct exposure to the worst kind of behavior that our species has to offer, is that, even when you don’t ask for help, people are there to give it.

They may not always be as obvious as the volunteers lined up along the marathon route with their arms extended, offering fluids, but they are there. And, the optimist in me would like to think that they way outnumber those with rival intentions.

They are there, and sometimes you may not even know that you have been “helped”, until you realize that you have. Your inner reservoir has somehow been refilled enough so that you can keep moving forward, when you were so sure you could not.

During our most recent adventures, they have been there, arms extended: a kind word, a comforting hand on the shoulder, a smile, healing thoughts and prayers sent from around the globe, a surgeon willing to sit for a spell, nurses and docs eliciting a smile from an otherwise miserable kid, a cashier with an infectious sense of humor, neighbors who showed up with food, a contractor and his team going the extra mile and, well, having our back … and I could go on and on and on.

There is something I like to jokingly add whenever I ask for updates on the repairs happening in our home: “please don’t cut my thread”. But, the truth is these and so many other wonderful people have seen me running my marathon … hanging by a thread, and have made sure that it is, not only a strong resistant thread, but that there is a safety net underneath just in case. They are there, arms extended, offering nourishment for my soul, and I am thankful.

The writings on marathon water station etiquette suggest that the best way to receive your little cup of fuel, is to make eye contact first. Do you feel like you can’t keep going, that you have been given too much to handle and cannot take another step? Look around you. They are there … arms extended. Make eye contact. Accept the gift of soul food they offer. Then, when you can, be there to hold out a little cup for someone else in need.

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