When I am not in my dental practice, I am a fairly avid runner. It’s about so much more than just exercise for me. In light of the recent Boston marathon bombing, my love of the sport and my sense of unity with fellow runners has been at the forefront of my mind.
I love long-distance running (and you should know I am not a fast runner at all!) It is a moving meditation of sorts for me. I’ll never be the winner of the race unless I am the only one that shows up. I am one of those runners in the middle of the pack of people. The people who are in it for the journey – the experience, not just crossing the finish line as quickly as possible.
Amidst this group, a very interesting phenomenon occurs – and truly, I think it is one of the things that keeps me doing races – not just running or jogging on my own. We form a community our there on the race course. On many marathon courses in my area, there aren’t too many people around besides the runners – so we support each other with words of encouragement as we cover the distance. We share our food and anything else we carry. We exchange pats on the shoulder as we pass each other late in the race and are too tired to talk, and hugs and tears between complete strangers covered in sweat at the finish line.
During my last race, I remember singing a rousing chorus of, “I Feel Good,” by James Brown somewhere around mile 20 with a group of people I’d never met before who burst into song. And I should also tell you – there have been moments during races, where each step was agonizing and difficult. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to continue.
Over the 26 miles and all the training runs, there is also plenty of time for quiet contemplation. I’ve often thought about how at times, I am singing with joy in races, and at others it’s been so hard – I’m not sure I will reach the finish line. The same has been true on my path of life. What carries me through the highs and lows is remembering the truth about myself: I am doing the best I can with what I know.
I’ve heard Dr. LD Pankey, the founder of the Pankey Institute (whose teachings have had a huge influence on my practice and life) once said, “Mercedes never apologizes for last year’s model.” And so as I learn and grow, I’m learning to look back at last year’s model of myself with love and appreciation. I’m also committed to surrounding myself with like-minded people who will push me to stay on my learning edge and draw out the potential I have within.
My very best to you in your journey.