“I don’t really look at the board.” Early this morning I congratulated Sarah on her great achievement from late last night. Sometime in the depths of a pleasant New York evening she became the 5th runner to pass 1,000 miles in the race. It is usually a great moment for the runners, but one that is also tempered with the shocking and unavoidable reality that you still have another 2000 more miles to go.
So celebrating to access, when she still has an unhorizoned view of the task yet to be accomplished is obviously premature. If Sarah didn’t put on a hat and blow a whistle it is not too surprising. She simply has too much respect for all the effort that got her this far and even more for what lies ahead.
A bit puzzled I suggest that it would be hard to not trip over such a milestone. “Seriously I didn’t. Everybody kept yelling at me, and I was wondering what was going on.”(laughs) “But that was very nice.”
Sarah has wanted to run this race for a very long time. It was always a sweet dream that seemed to exist just beyond her reach. That is until last year. Last year when at last the opportunity came but a fully healthy body did not.
Determined to find her way to the finish line any way, she set off in what would have to be one of the most testing, difficult, and yet in some ways fulfilling experiences of her life.
By day 17, the same time last year, there was already literally no mathematical, physical, or any human way that she would be able to make 3100 miles within 52 days.
In all our lives we each have to face tests and challenges for ourselves. To plumb the depths of our capacities in all kinds of difficult things. But I wonder how many people would have had the strength and courage that this 38 year old lady from Adelaide had here last year. How she came to the starting line at 6 o’clock and kept moving every single day. Knowing each mile she ran would never be enough to allow her to cross that 3100 mile finish line. The one that she had sought for so long.
And so she went home to Australia with 2696 miles. A number that probably has little significance to her now, just as the big fat glorious 1000 miles had for her last night.
“In the back of your mind you are always thinking that you want to finish the race. You have to keep some sort of balance. Sometimes I can be joking with someone and you know there is a time to be serious as well. Every day is important. Just yesterday I felt an injury coming on the whole right side of my body started to ache. So from one day to the next you don’t know what is going to happen.”
“So every morning you sit at your shrine and pray. You hope some grace will pull you through some how. Every day is different.”
O unawakened earth, awake!
Challenge the skies’ commotion.
Conquer ignorance and pain.
Fulfill yourself in the march of time.
Sri Chinmoy, Transcendence-Perfection, Agni Press, 1975