“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” –Kathrine Switzer
The marathon is an amazing thing.
It’s a testament to love, hard work, dedication, strength, and an amazing feat of human will.
People gather in the masses to encourage, uplift, and show love for their family and friends. But it’s the fact that they’re so willing to do the same for complete strangers that’s so beautiful.
A particularly tough stretch of the Columbus marathon taught me that lesson last fall.
Rounding the corner of mile 18, I felt a spectator watching me intently. As I passed, she reached out for me with a gentle hand.
“Emily,” she said, meeting my eyes squarely. “I’m proud of you.”
Shocked, I squeaked out a thank you and kept running. But her words never left me. Someone who didn’t know me was proud of me. She took the time to notice that I was doing something difficult and felt compelled to show me the same kindness she might have shown her own daughter.
When I heard what happened in Boston yesterday, I thought of that woman. The one who showed me kindness for no other reason than for the sake of kindness. I don’t know who she is. But I'll never forget her.
Yesterday, people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon responded to tragedy the way I expected them to—with love, kindness, and compassion.
I got up early this morning. Very early. I put on my shoes and headed outside in the dark. It was probably a dangerous idea on my part, but I did it anyway.
I ran alone, in the silence of the early morning. I listened to my breathing, felt my feet hit the pavement in rhythm. And I cried.
I cried because the world is a tough place for you and I. Those of us who feel and love and try to see the best in others. It’s easy to be discouraged, isn’t it? Easy to feel like no place is safe for us anymore.
But, it is. Try to find your peace in those stories of the helpers. Those who ran toward the danger, not away. Who were kind and protective of strangers who needed them.
And remember: no matter who you are or where you go, someone is proud of you.