The Marathon of Life

I remember my first marathon in July 2010. No, I did not run, but was there at the finish line with Kelly to cheer on Laura, our daughter, participating in her first half-marathon. To be perfectly honest – the thought of getting up before 5:00 am to take Laura down to San Francisco Bay and then go to wait by the finish line in Golden Gate Park did not excite me. However, when we went to the San Francisco bay with thousands of other people, I did wake up a bit. But it was at the finish line where I felt immensely inspired and emotionally touched at a deep level. There were thousands of faces and hundreds of stories – personal victories and triumphs – I witnessed that day. The faces of some pained, and dehydrated, some old and some young, some bright and exuberant as if they had just been out for a short sprint. The stories I witnessed were even more spectacular. The father-daughter team, the person who ran over 12 miles in a duck suit, the boyfriend and girl friend who were running together and just before the finish line the boyfriend started running backwards – took out a ring box and proposed – just as they were crossing the finish line. And we were waiting… the anticipation of seeing Laura cross. She said she anticipated it taking about 2 hours. So we were there – well before 2 hours trying to get the best view possible. 1 hour 50 minutes – no Laura, 2 hours – o.k., maybe she is a bit slower than she thought – or maybe we missed her in all the excitement. 2 hours 10 minutes – still no sign of Laura – then the anxiety – what if she fell or got sick? 2 hours 20 minutes – a bit more anxiety – but then we saw her – I yelled out to her – she ran by and high-fived me near the finish. (It turns out she had to pee one last time before the start so was not in her original starting flight, but the one behind it – her actual “tag” time was 2 hours, 6 minutes and 4 seconds).

I had never expected this race to provide so much excitement, to evoke so many different and powerful emotions.

And today – April 15, 2013 – I add new emotions – sadness, frustration, and anger. Two explosions killing several and injuring scores marred the Boston marathon. From the joy and triumph I experienced at the finish line in San Francisco – to the heartache I feel for those effected by todays tragedy – Life continues. The marathon of life provides opportunities for both delight and misery. We never know when we may experience these feelings – we never know when catastrophe may strike. But we keep on running…

Michael Winters is a Psychologist in Houston focusing on marriage counseling and therapy. Michael received his PhD from the University of Memphis and has been practicing since 1991.