Running a marathon is hard. I don’t know this firsthand, but if I base my understanding on how hard it is for me to run down the block and extrapolate that out by about one hundred and fifty five times, I’d say I’ve got a semi decent theoretical idea of how hard it is to run a marathon. I’ve heard that near the end of a marathon, people’s bodies shut down and they start shaking and just uncontrollably barfing. Sometimes peoples’ nipples bleed through their shirts because of the chafing (which is fucking GROSS, by the way).
When people decide to run a marathon, it seems to me its for one of three reasons. Reason 1 is “I’m a competitive runner (perhaps from Kenya, just throwing it out there) and I’m gonna win this fucker, get some money, and it’s gonna be awesome.” Reason 2 (which accounts for probably 90% of everyone in a marathon) is “I want to challenge myself and see if I can do something that’s at the upper limits of what possible is,” and reason three (and I can’t stress enough, this one is far and away the most rare) is “I’m one of those dicks that runs marathons and talks about it all the time and did you run a marathon last year? No? Oh, that’s cool. I ran three.”
I’m sure there are variations on all these, but my point is, a marathon is, for the most part, a great testament to the good, positive, triumphant-in-the-face-of-adversity nature of human beings as a whole.
In much the same way that I’d never sit down to eat a 64 oz steak in half an hour, I’d never attempt to run a marathon. It’s too much for me. The training alone sounds nightmarish. I can’t imagine what it’s gotta be like in that last mile. Now, after all that training, after all that dedication, after all the sacrifices you’ve made in order to get yourself mentally and physically ready to take on one of the greatest feats of endurance known to man, to get to the very end and get your fucking LEGS BLOWN OFF!?!?! is so unspeakably shitty. I’m not trying to be glib here. There is nothing so evil as attacking the weak, and make no mistake, anyone who’s finishing a marathon is fucking weak as shit.
I read this morning about the 8 year old boy who was killed while waiting at the finish line to hug his dad and I just about burst into tears (I didn’t, because I was sitting with my kid and I don’t really need to start his day off with a very grim lesson in mortality and the ‘fragility of the little bubble mommy and I try to keep you and your sister happily existing in.’) I mean, that’s just heartbreaking. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
I’m not writing this because I have a theory a la “was this one of those Alex Jones nuts or was it a Unibomber type or was it the Taliban?” because it doesn’t matter. I’m not interested in vengeance or any of that. There’s no eye or tooth that could bring back my kid if he were to blow up while waiting to give me a hug. There’s no amount of blood or anything that could ever make that any better. Everyone is making a big deal about Patton Oswalt and his observation (I guess, or is it more of a kind of fireside chat? I don’t know…not the point. Anyway…) that there are more good people than evil people in the world and that everyone was running towards the explosions and that humanity is, at its heart, kind and good. And he’s right. And I believe that. And I hope sincerely that people find comfort in that. I do. But it doesn’t change that some guy now has no legs and some other people now have dead children and that the overwhelming thing that I got out of all those newscasts yesterday was “This is the kind of thing that happens in Baghdad, not Boston” and “This doesn’t seem to be one of those bombs that goes off in, say Tel Aviv, where they just cause such massive devastation” and this really gets me down.
The thing is, I don’t live in Boston. I wasn’t there. I heard an anecdotal story about a child and his dad and as the father of young kids, I took it to heart and internalized it and it struck a chord with me. But it doesn’t change that I don’t live in Boston and I wasn’t directly impacted by this. WHY then, should any bomb that goes off anywhere and kills any kid or grownup or anyone not have the same profoundly devastating effect on me…on all of us? According to the experts, these aren’t the big, really destructive murder weapons that we take for granted pop off in the Middle East all day long. Are we really so jingoistic that we can separate and compartmentalize the horror of some lunatic blowing people up based on an arbitrary line drawn in dirt by a bunch of megalomaniacal assholes in bullet-proof conference rooms? Does it matter that this happened at a Marathon, and that people who had been running (many for charity) for 26+ miles had to keep running just to stay safe, or that many exhausted runners couldn’t find their families and couldn’t go back to their hotels and are, as we speak living in a world of pain, loss and confusion? Are these not just specifics that seek to hide the greater truth which is that whenever any bomb goes off, innocent people’s lives get completely turned upside down? And sure, we can all be very sad about this…I am. I can’t stop thinking about it. I woke up today feeling like I’d done something awful last night…like, that I’d blacked out and gotten in a fight or something. When I realized that no, I was just still very upset about this bombing, the realization was worse. I wish I’d just been drunk and fighting. I wish that whoever blew up those people had decided not to do it. I wish the bombs hadn’t worked. I wish that none of the people who try to blow people up were smart enough to build and detonate their bombs.
It’s a very sad thing. And I’m realizing today that maybe the saddest thing is how willfully callous I’ve been to the violence in the world at large.
When I hear something like “three people dead and almost a hundred injured as a bomb went off in a Karachi market today” my initial thought is (and I don’t believe this as I’m typing it) “huh…that’s really not that bad, all things considered,” because I’m somehow so used to hearing about distant bombs taking 24 lives, 100 lives, 3,000 lives, or some assneck murdering 24 children in their classroom, that some faraway market getting blasted to smithereens and ‘only’ 3 people dying seems like kind of a breeze.
But man, as I watched that footage yesterday…three dead. 100 injured. That’s a brutal, ugly thing. And yes, people are kind, and yes, people ran to help the injured and thank you baby jesus that they did….
I don’t even know how to finish this. I love you guys. Boston is a great town. I’ve never been to Karachi, but I bet there are kids who hug their dads all over Karachi too…Let’s keep taking care of each other and being kind, because at the end, and, as we’ve all just been reminded, the end can come at any moment, that’s all there is here. Just kindness and other people to love and care about. Without that, there’s nothing worth a shit on this planet, period.
I’m glad to have all of you.
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