Thursday, September 4, 2008

We're All in this Together

I ran the Nike 10k Human Race last Sunday. It was spectacular, with a race in 25 cities across the globe, over 750,000 participants world-wide, and 15,000 in Buenos Aires. I had a fabulous time. I could go on and on about it, but you have probably already read about it in the paper. What I really want to tell you about is something that I thought about the entire time I was there.

It’s something that a friend said to me about 14 years ago, something that changed the way I view the world and I think something that captured the spirit of the race.

I was in my first year of engineering school and I had just turned 18 years old. I had gone to class early and was waiting outside in the hallway for class to start. I was chatting with a friend, when someone else from our class asked him about the homework that was assigned from the day before. He began talking with this guy, answering his questions and talking him through any uncertainties that he had.

After a couple of minutes I thought he would begin talking with me again and we could finish our conversation, but I could tell that the guy still didn’t understand, so my friend continued talking with him. When the bell rang for our class to start, I realized that he had been helping him for a good 20 to 30 minutes.

I was a little surprised by this so I asked him if he knew the guy he was talking to. “No, I’ve never met him” he answered. “Wow! You’ve never met him and you helped him for that long with his homework?” I said, incredulously. What he said to me next, is something I will remember for the rest of my life, and something I keep as one of my core beliefs.

He said “Yeah, the way I see it, we’re all in this together.”

I probably sounded like David Chappell’s impersonation of Lil Jon after that (I think I said “What?” about 5 times) because what he said to me really rocked my world. I had never thought about life that way: “We’re all in this together.”

I think what really stumped me was the “this” part. I hadn’t figured out what “this” was yet.

Now, 14 years later, I think I have.

Even though we’re all different, in the end, we are all the same. We all have our fears, our insecurities, and our innermost thoughts when we are laying in bed, alone in the dark just before we fall asleep at night. We all have the need to be loved, to be accepted, and even though we different places in our lives, we all are looking for our happiness. In the end, we are all just trying to make our way through life, doing the best that we can.

The key part here is that if we can help someone along the way, then we can make the world a better place, for that person, for us, and for everyone.

And this is exactly the feeling that I felt while I was at the race.

First there were all the runners, 15,000 of them, of different ability levels, running different paces, everyone dressed in their red shirts, trying to make their way towards the finish line. Then there were the people at the turn-around near the Lago del Golf, blasting music to pump everyone up. Also, the fabulous Gatorade crew that made sure that everyone, from the fastest runners, to the ones bringing in the rear, reached their goal. And I can’t forget, one of the most important parts of any race, the people lining the streets, cheering us on as we made the final 200 meter stretch towards the end.

It was really something special. I felt a real sense of unity out there, like I was part of something more than just a race, something that is hard to describe.

I think the phrase “We’re all in this together” fits perfectly.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Let me know your experiences, thoughts on the race.

Te mando besos,


lbaker said...

I couldn't agree more, Jen! I did one marathon (as a walker-slash-slow-jogger) in Portland a few years back and I felt some of this then. But I also feel it every day all around me. I love the way you encapsulate "we're all in this together." My daughter, on the other hand, loves the way the cast of "High School Musical" encapsulates it, hahaha.

Susan said...

I wish I could have been there, Jennifer. Well written.

JonathanMarathonMan said...

Yes we are all in this together. After running for ME for so long, now I try and find first time marathonsers and help THEM. I love to give back and to help others