It’s not an ideal running situation. There’s a fairly steep incline on one end and decline on the other, most of the gravel has been washed away, there’s mud and holes that must be avoided. Almost every single time at least one of them (and sometimes me) comes crashing down tripped up by the loose gravel that meets the blacktop. We’re often greeted by the dogs as well who trip us up and distract with their constant barking. One by one the girls take turns making the loop with me around that track-pitfalls, distractions, obstacles and all. The two girls who are waiting cheer and encourage while they wait their turn. This ritual has taught me a lot about my own heart. There are days when I just want to get out there and run as fast as I can leaving anyone and everyone behind. There are days when one of them falls and I don’t want to stop and help them back up. There are days when I cross the finish line and I want to be declared the winner. I want to use my size, power, authority and control to tell them how to run or even worse to win-win-win. I’ve even found myself distracted thinking that if I bought a new pair of shoes, or running clothes, or a subscription to a running magazine that I may be able to be-do-look better while I run.
I’ve even considered trading in my running partners. Maybe if I were to run with people who were more like me-older, more capable, more mature. Or better yet-to find some runners who are even better than me. Then I might be able to improve my running ability and feel more valuable because good runners want to run with me. My oh my, what opportunities I would miss if I were to give into those thoughts. My running partners are enough-in fact, they are prefect.
That’s when I remind myself and the girls that there is no winning and losing, good and bad, more and less important. That’s a lie society tells us so that we can use our power and control to hold others down-to consume people and stuff because of our fear. Fear that if we lose, fall, or get left behind we are somehow less valuable. The reason we run is to exercise our body, mind and soul in order to be more capable of caring for one another. When we run alongside one another it’s an opportunity to be encouraging, to stop and help others when they fall, to have a deeper understanding of the obstacles and challenges they are facing. To listen. I wish more areas of life could be this way-without the winning and losing, consuming and controlling, climbing the ladder and leaving others behind. This running ritual with the girls has taught me to be more aware of how my actions here at home or in the community might use the gifts of my power to encourage and lift others up or to control and hold them down. We’re all equal (we all have value) no matter how we run, whether or not we cross the finish line and most importantly regardless of what anyone else tells us by their actions, words, or use of power.