...is Fear itself. -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his 1933 inauguration
Today is a landmark day, and whether you politically align with the new president or not, you must marvel at the unique American ceremony of the peaceful, and celebratory, transference of power and think about how lucky we are to live in a country where change is embraced, not feared.
I rarely speak politics on this blog, but like millions of other Americans who listened to, watched, or read Obama's inaugural address today, I was moved. And his words lingered in my mind as I went out for my 3 miler this afternoon (28:44). For me, what often happens as I run is that while my body busies itself with the task of running, my mind soon follows suit with the rhythm of my body and I often find that running offers me the chance to contemplate and meditate. Today, I couldn't help but think about how the new president's speech, with its echoes of the inaugural address of FDR, was in such synchronization with who we are as athletes, and how this contributes to a greater understanding of what this new era represents.
For all of us who run, bike, swim, we have already chosen the road "less travelled." We have decided to carve out new paths of meaning and significance in our daily lives by casting aside the belief that life can be lived to the fullest by sitting home each night in front of the TV, allowing our bodies to decay and succumb to old age and disease. Instead, we have all taken up the challenge of endurance, and we have sought meaning in pursuing our physical goals and ambitions.
How many of you faced 13.1 miles or 26.2 miles, or a half ironman or full ironman, and thought to yourself, "No, that sounds too hard. It's not for me"? None of you! Whatever sport(s) you pursue, you have entered into the challenges knowing that each race requires your hard work, dedication and sacrifice, yet you have not shied away from such difficulties. You have toiled in the heat and the cold. You have worked through injury, disappointment, and pain. You have sweat, cried, and bled in order to cross that finish line with a feeling of satisfaction and meaning. You have dreamed of your goals and aspirations, and you have endeavored to not just allow those to remain shimmering mirages on your frontier: No, you went out there and you shaped those dreams into reality.
It's these qualities that you, as athletes, possess that I think help us understand the road we have in front of us as a country. As Obama said today, and as FDR said 76 years ago, this is a country in crisis. We have many problems and difficulties facing us: We're facing economic ruin, we have two costly and unpopular wars, we have a failing health care system and inadequate educational institutions. But we know that we can't just lie down in front of these challenges and say that endeavoring to alter the course of our actions and fix the problems that face us are "too hard. Not for me."
Many will say today that change cannot rest on the shoulders of one man, and I will agree that that is true. Change does not hinge on the abilities or dreams of one man. But just like your success in your races was not solely the product of your own dedication (your family, friends, co-workers, fellow bloggers cheered and encouraged you, helped and assisted you), successful change cannot be solely the product of one individual's effort. Rather, it rests on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the millions of Americans who have cheered, encouraged, helped, assisted, and ultimately entrusted our future to this one man. Change must come from all of us, and we know that such change will be arduous, yet we know that with hard work, dedication, and sacrifice, we will have hope for the future.
I hope that years from now, we will look back on this period and see it as "the wall" -- a point in which we felt that physically, mentally, emotionally we could not go on, yet we found the inner strength to do so -- we went the distance, we finished the race.
After all, we all know that change is not a sprint; it's a marathon.
So, happy "inauguration day"! I hope you find the spirit of excitement and the changing climate of hope to be fulfilling and meaningful.