It is almost autumn in New York and the eponomous marathon is nearly upon us. The warm summer haze is clearing to a blue skyline against the glass of the rising buildings. The slightly cooling weather always signals that the mile markers of the marathon will soon appear throughout the city. The weekend escapes that have left the five boroughs quieter in the summer months are slowly being replaced by the full noises of life. It is a goal of so many to keep steady paces and be mindful of schedules throughout the year to fulfill a self-motivated goal. It is a good reminder of how we live our lives. A marathon might at first seem like an individual sport, but behind every runners ability there is always someone who helps them in reaching their goals.
In a marathon there are no home teams with jerseys to wear, no decades of dynastic rivalries, and so we cheer for the individual who runs by us for the moment because we know that support is strength. Sometimes runners will choose to wear a shirt with their names emblazoned on the front so strangers will know their name. The participants understand that they may need a moment of motivation by someone who may not know them to shout out in encouragement at a moment of need to help them succeed. Those that stand with posters and spirited voices paired with meaningful smiles towards those they’ve never met as they run by, and in that moment one can feel the power of humanity. There is realization that the run is better for everyone if there is a sense of mutual appreciation in the roles that we hold towards one another at a given moment.
There is a palpable camaraderie that you can feel at every race. Beyond the tables of cups filled with water and hands outstretched giving out food, there are always cheers. A race is not an unalloyed act of running. The cheers of the crowds are themselves sustenance. There is energy in encouragement, and there is joy in propitious cheering for the success of others.
There are similarties to family structures in running a race. We all have supporting and leading roles at different times. There is an importance in understanding balance of goals and obligations versus support and time for gentle kindnesss and care.There are moments when it may seem easier for everyone to meet at the finish line or watch from the most convenient corner, but it is important to run the course together and be there for each other. We are present because we want to make their run in this race and this life better. Supporters are there not for the glory of finishing, but rather so that others can succeed.
A race requires resilience and determination, but it can not be run without others that help along the way. There is sometimes a more difficult stretch in the course. There may be a mile that does seem as scenic and the cheering crowds not always present. There is a truth that we realize that with each step forward we can more clearly hear the crowds and the bands playing in the distance. We know that there is always a roar of encouraging voices to hear beyond the bend or a beautiful view to see when we reach the next mile.