26.2 A SERIES
Everyone has dreams. Since I was about 16 years old, one of mine has been to run a marathon. When I cross the finish line in NYC on November 5th, I’ll likely do so with a recorded time of between 4 and 5 hours. In reality though, it will have taken me much longer to get there. There are things inside and outside of us that bring us closer to our dreams. There are also things that delay us, that push us so far away from our goals they are sometimes out of sight. If we are lucky, little by little, we are often able to transform those stumbling blocks into building blocks–they become the foundation for our strength, resilience, and ultimate determination. This series aims to uncover my long journey. Each week, I’ll share the people, places, and things that have brought me to the place I am at today, and that I hope will carry me from the starting line in Staten Island, to the finish line in Central Park. Mile by mile–this, is my 26.2.
Miles 9 & 10- Movies are Magic: Life Inspires Art…Art Inspires Life
If you know me and love me–well, even if you don’t love me, you probably know that I quote television and film constantly. Let’s face it, there are very few life situations that can’t be related to Seinfeld.
A few friends make fun of me because one of the movies I quote often seems incredibly random and even undeserving of a reference: The Holiday. There are actually several reasons I love this movie. I was only going to list the reason which is relevant to this post but now I can’t help myself. Quickly:
- It’s a brilliant rom-com PLUS Christmas movie
- Eli Wallach ♥♥♥
- Jack Black’s character is obsessed with scores (like me!)
Ok, besides all these, I especially adore one particular scene. It’s when Kate Winslet goes to pick up Eli Wallach for their special night out and he gives her a corsage. He tells her, “Forgive me, the last time I had a date, this is what we did.” He continues, “If it’s corny, or if it’s going to ruin your outfit, you don’t have to wear it.” Iris (Kate Winslet) proudly loops the corsage over her wrist, smiles, and says, “I like corny…I’m looking for corny in my life.” Arthur (Eli Wallach), a retired, Oscar Winning Hollywood writer, looks up at her delighted and says, “That’s a nice line.”
I’ve always agreed with Arthur, that it’s a nice line. Even more though, I wholeheartedly connect to the sentiment. I too, am looking for corny in my life. It’s something I realized several years ago, when I finally let go of all my pretenses–I was never meant to be one of the cool kids. I live for life’s awkward moments–I love them, they are what made me fall in love with the man I am currently married to. I’m often moved, humored, and inspired by things that others deem cheesy or even embarrassing. With that in mind, I dedicate both Miles 9 & 10 to a few of my favorite films–features that have helped create, build, encourage, and even reignite my dreams.
“You’re all heart Rock.”
No one can tell me that there’s a better training montage than the one above. Rocky IV is not just my favorite Rocky movie, it’s up there on the list of my all time favorite films. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the David vs. Goliath match-up, I always have been. I think it’s because I have always considered myself an underdog–even when I’ve known that other people have not.
This is what comes of being the younger sister, of always being compared–usually negatively, to my older sister, and even at times, my older brother. I remember an old math teacher of my brother’s was at first delighted to have me in her 7th grade class. Then after a few weeks she told me, “You’re nothing like him,” as she shook her head and walked back to her desk. I knew it was my behavior and my lack of comprehension of the material that disappointed her–but her comparison did not move me to improve.
I love Rocky as a hero because he’s all about the work. He may not be smarter or faster or stronger than his opponent, but he always trains harder than anyone–his work ethic is unmatched. Once he gets in the ring, you know he’s done everything within his power to prepare, and all that’s left is that work–and guts. He’s all heart. This mindset is what I lead every single day with. I know that I’m never going to be the strongest or most talented–but I’ll give myself a shot every time with the way I’m willing to work. And while my real life opponents are more often inside of me than out, they are all eventually toppled, no matter how large they loom.
“I’ve been ready for this my whole life.”
“RUDY! RUDY! RUDY!” If the last scene in this movie doesn’t make you weep, perhaps you should check if you’ve still got a ticker in there. I love this movie. It’s for the dreamers. It’s for the people who don’t give up, even when logic and reason and everyone around them says their dream isn’t possible. I hope I am always one of these people–no matter my success, I hope I keep dreaming big and believing, even in the face of immense doubt and skepticism.
When Rudy’s teammate asks him if he’s ready to run out on the field, he responds, “I’ve been ready for this my whole life.” Every day that I visualize the morning of the marathon, that is the line that comes to my mind. The whole process of getting to this point–that’s been the miracle–it’s been the completely transformative, life-changing gift. The race is like the sausage on the pizza. (I was going to use the more comfortable and common metaphor of icing on the cake–but I actually prefer cake without icing, so it felt disingenuous.)
I know that the finish line is the prize–I get that, and I want it. But getting to that starting line feels just as big–since for years it’s been blocked by fear and doubt. I know not everyone gets to have the moments that they’ve waited for their whole life. The journey has been an honor. I hope the destination is just as thrilling.
“And when I run…I feel His pleasure.”
I don’t talk a lot about God on this blog–mostly because I’m not religious and I never want it to seem like I am. All I’m really looking to communicate at this moment is how I believe in a power greater than myself, and how that power has inspired my running. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to demonstrate this belief than discussing my favorite running film of all time, Chariots of Fire.
Set behind one of my most beloved scores, the scene below, and others, changed what I believed about God/the Universe from a very young age. Before I saw this movie, I believed in heaven and hell; I believed there was some force living above us whose sole purpose was to dole out reward and punishment. All that changed when I saw that one of the main characters would not give up his dream of running in the Olympics to immediately jet off and continue his missionary work like his sister was pleading with him to do. She saw that work as his entire purpose. He did not. He believed that the talent he had for running was a gift from God, and that part of his life’s work was utilizing that talent to bring joy and hope into the world.
I believe that every person on earth has their own genius–something that’s been uniquely given to them. Unfortunately, not all of us mine our genius; not everyone has both the desire and the will to share their special gift with the world. Still, all of us have light buttons as well. These are things that we do that recognizably bring joy into the world–even if we are not the best at them. Perhaps these things are not our genius, but they are our tools for good; as we do them, the Universe smiles upon us and transmits hope and love and light into the world.
Running is one of my light buttons. It’s tough, it’s hard, and my body may not have been born to do it; but I know that my heart was. So when I’m starting to feel tired at miles 9 and 10, I have to remember that my effort and resilience can bring strength and hope to someone else. And so I know I that I must do it. Because when I run, I feel His pleasure.
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