It’s NOT for spectators
If it were easy everyone would do it.
Life is not a spectator sport, because we are connected – there are no spectators.
I’m equally unqualified to make EITHER of these statements – except that: (1) I’ve lived the first and (2) people who are insanely qualified have proven the second…..one of them gave a TED talk (embedded) and demonstrated how we are literally connected. Sure, we can pretend that it’s possible to standby and watch, to pretend we’re all just strangers sharing the same space….or we can open our mind to the fact that we are connected to the world around us and if it thrives and wins, so will we…..that, in fact, we have a vested interest in seeing our communities (and individuals who make them up) thrive. Today’s event shouldn’t surprise me, but it sure did validate a few things.
My job was to cheer for members of the BaseCamp31 Athletic Club (BC*AC) who were racing the Unite 1/2 Marathon. My kids and I found a good spot right before the final hill and homestretch to the finish. We yelled, snapped a few pics and gave encouragement to get over the final hill; to empty the tank and finish strong. Once Lindsay (@LindsayGE) passed us, we decided to walk toward the finish line to meet her. As we walked up the hill I noticed a woman who had a somewhat peculiar gait. She was working very hard (and yet moving very slowly) toward the finish. I encouraged and kept moving…until a few steps later my middle daughter said to me “Dad…I don’t think she’s OK…you need to help”. She was struggling to stay on her feet and eventually sat. We got her to the side and after some Q&A concluded she was fine….but was bonking….hard. Severely depleted, but not much else. I went into full empathy mode.
SCENARIO: Less than 1/2 mile from the finish of her first 1/2 marathon, with young family waiting only hundreds of yards up the road to see mom accomplish something amazing, she was about to NOT finish. My heart broke at the idea: 12.8 of 13.1 in the books and this person was to be robbed of the feeling of strength that comes with achievement? Instead her family would be worried when they didn’t see her or worse got a call from the medics? Not good enough.
Someone tossed me a spare gel (carbs) – it was enough to get her going. Another bystander (finisher) jumped in and helped me walk with her. An EMT called ahead to have a wheelchair ready. Arm in arm we marched the last 800-ish yards. We promised that she would finish…she did.
It wasn’t really our job. It probably wasn’t really our place. Except that we are all connected, so we step off the sidelines and try to make a difference when we can.
Maybe it was the woman who benefited most. Maybe it was the crowd watching. Maybe it was my kids. Maybe it was me.
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