i met a serious woman
at a dinner party last night
who is training for a hundred-kilometer marathon.
that’s sixty-two miles, she said.
she got into running
during the pandemic.
i learned that it takes twenty-four hours and that the runners start at 5pm.
i learned that she used to carry food with her in a running backpack but now she uses the aid stations.
i learned that there were aid stations.
i learned that she had a child when she was very very young and now that child has left home.
i said to her
this is amazing
i want to ask you all sorts of stupid questions now.
and she looked right at me with her serious, piercing eyes
there are no stupid questions.
so i paused for a moment
and i said ok
how do you love again after such incredible pain?
and i am pretty sure she misunderstood me, because she didn’t bat an eye or skip a beat
and she told me that after her last marathon
(which was only fifty kilometers)
her feet were chaffed and bleeding and her body was sore and mangled and she thought that she might die but ….
and i realized that she had misheard my question
and had thought i’d asked
how do you run again after such incredible pain
but i didn’t interrupt her
her feet were chaffed and bleeding and her body was sore and mangled and she thought that she might die but she realized
it didn’t matter.
she just really loved doing this.
she just really loved running marathons.
it makes me feel alive
and the act of surviving such agonizing and unbearable pain makes you so proud of yourself
and makes you just want to do it again
so you can use all the new survival skills
and i realized
that even if she’d totally misunderstood my question
she still gave it
(art…one of my favorite paintings ever, “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth).