If you have read a single word of any of my writing you know that I am insanely proud of my sister, Mary. This weekend she ran her first marathon and through fundraising brought clean water to 14 people around the world. Seeing her cross the finish line after 26.2 miles of running was like no feeling I’ve ever experienced before and I wasn’t even the one running! Here are some of the things that I learned from this marathon weekend.
People will come together for a common good.
Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are to hear me say that. I am incessantly pessimistic about the state of our country and our world, and at times staying positive feels fake and forced. But experiencing the excitement from the crowd at nearly every mile of the marathon brought me hope. Many runners write their names on their shirts so that random spectators can shout encouraging words specifically to them. People created funny and motivational signs for no one in particular, and yet every runner could appreciate them. People gathered in the thousands to cheer on the success of complete strangers; it’s beautiful.
We can use our passion to create change.
DUH. I don’t know why we don’t all get this and why we don’t all apply it every day (I’m talking to myself here). The night before the race I had the opportunity to attend an event sponsored by World Vision, the organization that my sister was running for. Their goal is to bring clean and accessible water to every person on the planet. They are visionaries, and they are making incredible progress. At this event, the keynote speaker stated that he hates running despite participating in multiple marathons throughout his life. “So, why run?” He posed to the audience. He uses this sport that he physically hates because it is an avenue to raise money and awareness, and make change. It is a way for him to humble himself and do something that is personally taxing for the betterment of others.
My passion is bringing justice and humane settlement to refugees globally. In this phase of my life I’m not living and working with refugees on the front line. So, I have to challenge myself. How can I use this passion right now, right where I am? A marathon is DEFINITELY not what I’m shooting for right now, but we have to stop pretending that we are passionate about something if, in reality, we only like related articles on Facebook. Is that really all we are capable of doing?
Marathon runners smell terrible.
Like, good job, but also take a shower.
We are all far more capable than we think.
The best part of the marathon was seeing the incredible diversity in runners. Runners existed on a vast spectrum of age, weight, and height, many of them running for the first time. As we age, we begin to look for meaningful mile markers in our life. We crave accomplishments because they give our lives importance. It is so incredible to see 80 year old men and women running a marathon for the first time, but how much more incredible is it when we see young people accomplishing these same goals, with an entire life ahead of them to build on and create positive change from these experiences? These moments change us, and while they are partly about personal achievements, they can be about so much more than that.
I can’t believe that I had the honor of seeing my sister accomplish such an amazing personal goal. I truly believe that we are related to each other for the sole purpose of constantly challenging, encouraging, and pushing each other to be better, do better, and improve the world for the people living in it. You could say I’m a proud brother.