Monday, October 4, 2010

Alive and Kicking

At an event such as yesterday's Race for the Cure in Jackson, you get reminded right quick about the importance of perspective. The Race has an early start time of 8:00 a.m., which on a seasonable weather day in the State of Concrete Gardens in early October means that when folks start arriving at Great Adventure at 6:30 to 7:00 for it, the mercury is doing something. Rising is not it. In the wee small hours of yesterday morning it was a bit chilly standing in the parking lot area near the Registration tent where Sue's Crew met to assemble. Getting to Jackson, which is one exit beyond the middle of nowhere, from anywhere other than - well Jackson apparently - takes a bit of time. I am an early riser every day (What can I say? I love the taste of worms) but even I recoiled a bit at the sound of my alarm clock yesterday morning at 3:38 a.m. beckoning me to begin my journey south.

Everyone was cold upon arrival yesterday. Everyone was trapped in traffic trying to get into the park. Everyone was caught in the long lines of people walking from the parking areas to the lot where the Race begins and ends. I know not if everyone was as disappointed as my bride to find out that the distance between where we parked and where we ran did not count towards her 3.1 mile run.

But once you either thawed out a bit or your body simply adjusted to its cold habitat, and once your eyes opened fully and once you had made your way through the crowd to meet up with (at least some of) the other members of your team, you were able to take a look around and get the full measure of your surroundings. And you saw the teams, much like ours, in their matching t-shirts. And you saw the names of the people for whom other people ran yesterday. Some of them survivors, like Mom. A lot of them not, like Suzy B. You saw the people who are themselves survivors of this horrible disease and who braved the early morning cold yesterday to perhaps run, or to walk or to simply cheer on loved ones who were doing one or the other. And you saw people who are in the throes of the fight for their life as we speak who may or may not have been able themselves to run or to walk yesterday but were present to support both those they knew and those they do not knew.

And once you begin to soak in what is happening all around you, the memory of why you came elbows its way to the forefront of your mind. It knocked the crap out of all of those other "concerns". You remembered that that you would eventually warm up. And you would indeed wake up as well. Neither is actually a problem but rather a transitory condition.

Yesterday there were countless individuals there who have firsthand experience with the former and sadly have little difficulty discerning it from the latter. But when you looked at their faces and in their eyes yesterday morning it was not fear staring back at you. It was not resignation either. It was life.

And that is why you came. For life. For theirs. For yours. For ours.

-AK

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