Monday was Patriot’s Day, on which is commemorated the beginning of the American Revolution, or something like that. (I do have a friend who woke at four that morning to attend the battle re-enactment on Lexington Town Green. Isn’t that quaint? I must include this sideswipe in the hopes that he finally starts reading my blog and blushes to be teased so.)
The event that I most associate with Patriot’s Day, though, is the Boston Marathon. Many years ago, when I was (allegedly) a full-time singer, I wrote a piece about how running a marathon is much like being a singer: that throughout the course we feel the gamut of emotions, and that what ultimately makes it worthwhile is the support and encouragement of the bystanders/audience.
I now realize how much the idea of being a singer, as held at that time, is more of a synecdoche. What I thought of as that special (nay, exalted) state of being, the life of a singer, is really just life. Everything I thought so profound about my observation fades as I experience more of life — as a singer, as a wife, as a mother, as a human being.
I still have a lot of affection for the marathon. It always gives me a feeling of inspiration, not so much as in, “Gee, I’d like to train and run a marathon next year!” (pah!) but as in, “Wow the human spirit has a lot in it, and twenty-six miles translates into a lot of time to be present with one’s own thoughts and demons.” The past few years I’d missed it because of travel, and this year I was looking forward to taking my boys with my new-new-old stroller so that they could get a feeling for the excitement of seeing all those people in that insane, beautiful undertaking.
For better and worse, both boys napped Monday, so we didn’t end up hitting the road until the race was almost over. The pack had long since passed, and we were left to see the stragglers. Probably ten minutes after we arrived, the police opened up the street to cars. We were that late.
I still found it incredibly moving. Maybe even more moving than seeing the pack or the front runners. I guess I kind of identify with the stragglers at this point in my life. (Not that I could run, or even walk, a marathon course.) I identify with the struggle, the search, the hard path. I only wish I handled the hard path with the grace the marathon people embody.