I have a close friend who ran the Boston Marathon today. He would have been finishing close to the time the bombs went off at the finish line. At this time I can't be sure when or if he finished or whether he's hurt. All I can do is hope he didn't pick up his pace in the second half of the race; he passed the mid-way mark at 2 minutes and 22 seconds. The bombs expoded about 4 hours and six minutes into the race.
This situation is too close for comfort. I imagine within 24 hours or less I'll find out if he avoided the tragic explosions that so far have killed, reportedly, 2 people and injured a few dozen. I hope he sends me an email soon.
I am worried about my friend. I hope he is safe. I know running marathons has given him great joy during the past decade. He's run about 15 around the United States. It has been his release, his battle against aging and celebration of his athletic and personal grit, and I suppose for several other reasons. It has made him feel good about himself, I sense, and rightly so. I have been proud of him for being so courageous to do these wickedly difficult events.
If these were Middle Eastern terrorists who set off the bombs, they have fired another shot at our American society. As we saw in the aftermath of 9/11, however, we will not back down and will continue to live our lives as free people. They can continue to try to take down our nation but they have a strong opponent on their hands. America remains a free country nearly 12 years after that horrible day. We will not be taken down.
If these were not the Middle Eastern terrorists but rather American militant groups or some other sort of lone wolf perpetrators, they will not prevail either. They think they will. But they never do. They miscalculate. They probably don't care if they die and obviously don't care if they kill other people. They think this gives them power. We know all it really does it make them cowards and cruel. They should not feel good about killing and injuring innocent Americans. They should be ashamed and put to shame. They don't belong in a civilized society. They belong somewhere else--not here.
Comparing what happened today in Boston--a masive nullification of life-long dreams for many people finishing the Boston Marathon by ruining the scene with bombs--with what happened yesterday at the Master's Golf tournament is what makes sports a useful prism through which to view, track and understand life's conflicts and disparities. Today people died watching a running event. Yesterday two golfers, Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera, gave credit to each other for making great clutch shots on the second hole of a playoff each one so desperately wanted to win. In the most tense time of the tournament with only two of them left to win the championship, they both hit great iron shots into the green and gave a thumbs up to each other as if to say "Hey, great shot. That's the way to do it."
This behavior could not be any more opposite to the behavior of those who set off bombs today at the Boston Marathon. In less than 24 hours we've seen sports stories at their best and worst. In our daily lives we witness the best and worst a lot. At work we see people get mad at each other. We see them encourage each other, blame each other. We see employees get terminated and promoted.
Up and down, down and up, bad and good, good and bad--life's Ferris wheel keeps rotating around and around. No one can stop it. Sometimes I feel like I'm on a Ferris wheel as it ascends to the top. The flimsy seat I am in flies around the apex. I think the chair is going to fly off into the sky, disengage from the ride, and I will fall a hundred feet to my death. It's scary to ride a Ferris wheel. Today seeing videos of the people injured at the Marathon, including one man with a leg blown off, it can feel like we're free-falling in a Ferris wheel seat about to crash on concrete.
It's scary to run a Marathon. It hurts. Your legs ache. Your chest burns. The last thing you need, or expect, is a bomb going off at the end, at the very moment you are about to feel the ultimate feeling of accomplishment. You are about to attain a life goal you thought you may not ever have the guts to achieve, and a bomb explodes, killing the thrill.
Some maniac or maniacs set off a bomb and ruin your day and everyone else's. They are the losers. The runners are the winners. This world is full of both.
My friend is a winner and always will be regardless of whether he finished or was harmed by the explosions.
No one can take that away from him. And no one can take America away from us.