Sunday, February 18, 2007

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high. There’s a land that I run in that I heard of only once in a lullaby. Dorothy certainly wasn’t singing about me or running but her words ring so true. I can overcome any struggle by going to my own personal land where I’m given strength by those from above. Is it over the rainbow? I don’t know but it’s definitely somewhere in a land where things are not taken so seriously. My body remains in this world but what lies in my heart is something only I believe to be true and only I am a beneficiary of. In the land where I run I have landmarks in each of my routes that are significant in that they remind me of lost relatives who are gone from this world but live on within my heart. As I run I may struggle but I know that if I persevere I will reach one of those landmarks and be filled with new energy.

There are many people still in this world today for whom I find strength but unknown to most there are three who no longer remain whom I rely upon for strength. My relationship with all three while they were alive was average at best but the memory of how each was special to me in their own way will live forever.

I was quiet child who wasn’t demanding or overbearing. I was extremely shy and withheld most emotions and thoughts. The three people I mention above tried very hard in their own way to get through to me and open me up. My shyness wouldn’t allow me to express my feelings toward anyone no matter how hard they tried. However, many years later I now feel the impact of their attempts and use what they taught me to my advantage as a runner and as a person.

First and foremost my Grandfather taught not through words but rather action. He was a man who couldn’t read or write but instead of crawling into a hole he worked hard to successfully raise four children, my mother included. He taught me that hard work brings pain but also satisfaction. He taught how to persevere through pain and more importantly he taught me not to complain about it. It’s there, live with it, work with it and run with it. He taught me that sometimes a good fistfight is the only way to resolve an issue but it’s not the first way. He was a tough guy and he is the reason that I’ve been successful at running in 100 mile races. He guides me as I train and he watches over me and protects me as I race. He gives me courage and he transforms his spirit into my heart and soul energizing me and giving me power. As I reach the landmark on my 20 mile training route that reminds me of my grandfather I stand upright, I run faster, feel better, and yes I even smile.

Secondly, a person that I’ve never spoke of in any of my writings, my Aunt, has had a major impact on my life. In 2001 she died tragically from cancer at a very young age. When alive she was vibrant, confident, and bold, all qualities that I strived to have and admired in her. She treated everyone equally including this shy young boy who tried desperately to stay in the background. She would have nothing of it and made attempts to seek out what was in my heart and bring me to the forefront. Despite the fact that she treated everyone equally I now look back and realize that she took special care to make sure I felt accepted. Recently I had a dream where she came to me and spoke words that lifted my spirit. I’ve failed to overcome several challenges over the last few years that I would be embarrassed to admit to anyone especially her. I think her presence in my dream was a way for her to tell me that it’s okay. Tears streamed down my eyes as I awoke because she was gone and I could never express my feelings towards her. However I do have a landmark on one of my running routes that will keep her memory in my heart forever. The landmark exists on my 14 mile route that I just so happened to be traversing the day I found out about her death. Half-way through the run I stopped in front of a newly constructed church and prayed. Every time I now pass by this church thoughts of her come to mind which in turn bring a smile to my face.

Finally the third person who is gone from this world yet still lives on in my heart is my Uncle. I’m certain that my Uncle saw himself in me even as I was a young child growing up in front of him. He lived well into his seventies before a tragic car accident took away his life. He lived alone and even though on the outside he seemed to be a crusty, bitter, old man it was obvious to me that on the inside he had a heart of gold. His outward emotions were a product of fear. He was afraid of almost everything and everyone. Most people he came in contact with never recognized his fears nor the defense mechanisms he utilized as a means of protection. His communication skills were severely deficient and his way of expressing emotion came off as arrogance or hatred. He was a smart man, God fearing organized, hardworking, and a caring man who contributed immensely to the success of his family but if given a chance could have contribute much more to the world.. My fondest memories were the times that he spent with my oldest brother and I while raking the leaves in the large yard that surrounded his home. Truthfully my brother and I never once raked one leaf as by the time we arrived he had the entire yard already cleaned up. His only request was for us to help him dump the piles of leaves in an empty barrel and then watch them burn. I now look back and realize he didn’t need our help but rather he only wanted our company. He never expressed emotion but I always knew he had a heart but couldn’t find a way to say the words he wanted to say. However when he did speak he spoke powerfully. His words left an indelible mark that will never leave and will always influence my decisions and my own self esteem. The words he spoke “never allow anyone to intimidate you” and his belief that “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. My 10 mile running route includes a section that travels right past the area where his home was once located. I always stop in front of that spot and not only do I pray to God but I also talk directly to my Uncle. Sometimes I find myself apologizing for not giving my best while others I stand proud as I know he is proud of me. When I leave I feel stronger than before because I’ve allowed his spirit to enter my heart.

It’s an amazing feeling to be able to express my self the way I do when I run but I wish I would have had the courage to express myself to the people I spoke of above while they were alive There’s no pain associated with the words I love you but there certainly is pain if the people you care about most are gone before you can say the words. Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow why then, oh why can’t I. I haven’t been able to find the courage to use the words I love you to those I care about most but I believe it would come easier if I allowed the words to flow without question or much thought given. This is exactly how the birds do the impossible and find their way over the rainbow. No questions asked and not a lot of thought given. Just action!

Dave B.


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