Why do you run?
We see that question asked a lot. On blogs. In running magazine articles. Everybody has a reason why they run. Or so they say. Something so obvious on the outside. Much deeper on the inside.
There's your picture. Then there's the story behind your picture. You may give a reason why you run. Because you wanted to lose weight. Because you wanted to run a marathon. Because you needed a hobby.
But, what you really may be saying is it's not about the weight, it's about running from what made you gain the weight. It's not about the marathon, it's proving to people who say you can never do anything that you indeed can. It's not a hobby, it's a lifesaver.
Every time I start to get to know a new running friend I'm so tempted to ask, "So, what is your story? You real story?" But, I don't. I know in due time it will come to me. Not because I asked. Not because it's necessary I know. But, because eventually they will tell me. Because eventually we will become closer friends. Because eventually they will trust me. Because eventually it becomes less about the run and more about the person.
When I watched this years Chicago Marathon I watched the 40,000 faces run by me. Faces of runners. Faces of people. I wondered what their stories were. There was the woman who works at Target. Your neighbor. Your friend's college son. The veteran. The single mother. Your husband. Your college roommate. The recovering drug addict. These are all things others see on the outside. But, most people don't see what's on the inside. What really fuels them to run.
Sex addiction. Depression. Alcoholism. Obesity. Mental illness. Sex abuse. Serious physical illness. Bad marriage. Financial struggles. Infidelity.
It's some of what fuels people I know. Fuels them to run. Yes, they run to feel good. To be healthier people. To be stronger people. To be better people. But, in reality what they - we - run for is to be free. To be free of the demons that threaten to destroy us. Free to run. Free to live. Free. To. Be.
I'm amazed each time someone opens up to me. Tells me their story. I feel honored that they trust me with such intimate things. What is ironic though, the more people who tell me their story, the more that hear mine back. Maybe not all of it. But, bits and pieces. Here and there. Sometimes having someone open up to you allows you to feel it's ok to do the same. And, what we often find out is sometimes we are more similar than we are different.
Each person's story is intense. Because it's their story. We all have our shit. But, your own shit is the hardest. Because it's yours. I cannot specifically relate to many of my friends demons. But, I certainly can empathize. Listen. Hear. Care. Love. Be there. I may not know the solution. I may not know the right thing to say. But, I do the best I can.
However, I can still clearly remember what one friend told me when talking about his demons. He said that it may be something he has, but it does not define who he is. I've never forgotten that. He is so right. What happens to us, what we live through, what we are going through, what we struggle with. It does NOT define us. It is NOT who we are. Sometimes it's hard to remember that. But, it's important that we know that we are who we are because of things we've experienced. And, we are better people for surviving. It all. And, we will survive.
Running helps us get through it. Run past it. Run the hell over it.
Sometimes, someone shares something that knocks me off my feet. Hits me so close to home it makes my stomach turn.
Because sometimes, their story is my story too.