Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Confirmation


As I was rounding the golf course during today's training-for-nothing-in-particular 10.5-miler, I noticed something that -- so it dawned on me -- I had noticed many times before: the elderly men, by which I mean "greatest generation" men, that I passed along the trail met my passing with the same expression: a broad smile suggesting approval. Not quite pride, but nothing like envy either.

They see that I'm running by with effort and alacrity, and they like it.

This tells me I'm doing something right. I am using the strength I have while I have it, and they see this and know, from long experience, that this is the proper way to be alive. So I read their expression.

I do not mean to say that running is somehow equivalent with the service they self-report with the caps indicating the Navy ship on which they spent their war years. Whatever aches and disappointments I experience are nothing when set beside the hardships, trials, and losses they endured; nothing I achieve in running will ever belong in the same conversation as their triumphs.

No, I recognize that any such comparison is facile and stupid at best, so I want to make plain I am making a humbler one: I am seeing the wisdom of experience and age assuring me what I tell myself I already know, that our vigor will eventually fade, that "summer's lease hath too short a date," and that our endowments, honed and inborn, great and small, will never be more than what we make of them.

So I run.

(image source: photo gallery from 2009 Pints to Pasta 10k)

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