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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Only Thing to Fear

...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.

25 comments:

JojaJogger said...

For the first time in my life, I found myself weeping tears of joy and hope during an inauguration speech. BTW I've been stalking your blog via Razzdoodle's blog for several weeks now and really enjoy your writing!

Alison said...

PSST - you've gotta check out my blog - trust me!

runner26 said...

Great post!!

Jess said...

Nice post Jess! I like how you were able to relate the importance of today to what we do every day with our running!

teacherwoman said...

I planted my students in front of my lap top this morning and watched the video coverage with them. There were questions, laughter, questions, comments, thoughts, questions. I loved it. I was glued to it all morning. And the kids were learning.

What a monumental day. Great post, Jess.

Erin said...

Even I watched his speech so you know change is coming! Good recap and relating Obama's words to our every day lives.

Mel said...

I agree Great Post!

kelsalynn said...

I was incredibly moved as well today. I love your post b/c it sums up so much- the idea of change, perserverance, and call to action of all of us, not just one man. I hope this is our wall and that we climb over it!

awesome post.

MCM Mama said...

Nicely said, Jess. Great post!

Shannon said...

Even Rylee partook (sp?) of the momentous occassion by forgoing her nap and watching the inaugural speech live.

I though it was endearing how his nervousness made him flub up during the oath - twice. Kind of reminded me of Jon during his wedding vows.

Kristin said...

thanks jess. you speak so well!

The Running Knitter said...

Excellent post! Thanks!

Badgergirl said...

Nicely said!

Xenia said...

Well said.

Brooke said...

Wow- what a beautiful post...hmmm sounds like you know how to write or something? :)

TNTcoach Ken said...

Wow, way to go Mom.......

Sara said...

I'm Cdn and even up here the excitement and hope is strong for Obama. At work yesterday everyone watched the ceremony on our computers!

I loved this post - you are such a great writer. Got goosebumps reading it!

Wes said...

Well said, Jess!! Forgive me if I don't get all teary eyed over the words of the Messiah. It doesn't take much of a politician to point out what is wrong. It takes a real politician to figure out how to get things rolling to make it right. As much as I like Obama, I don't think putting somebody with no experience at the helm of the nation is a good idea. I am, however, willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, sometimes, people who don't know what is right or wrong, is just the type of person needed to fire off the change we all need and desire.

You did say it so beautifully though. This is all about what makes our country such a great place to live.

Marlene said...

Awesome post (essay) Jess! I love the analogy and you are so right. I may not be American, but I am so excited about this change.

YES WE CAN!

Marcy said...

Wow, I'm very impressed. A nice tie between the 2. Great post Jess ;D ;D

Alison said...

We're due August 3rd. I was so excited when I found out you were preggers too - I just couldn't say anything until now! We found out on Thanskgiving, but we had a bit of a scare at 6 weeks and wanted to make sure the ultrasound looked OK before making any kind of announcement. Looking forward to being pregnant buddies with you!

Marlene said...

P.S. Tagged you.

Shoe Running said...

Awe! I feel inspired :) I like the idea of recognizing running as being courageous.

Wasn't it Elenor who said "do something that scares you everyday"? I like that one a lot. :)

J~Mom said...

Great post Jess!!! Very moving!

Laurel said...

Um, I am almost crying at this post. What is wrong with me? I have been an emotional wreck for the past two days with all the inaugural hoopla!

Great post. Beautifully written.