Doing It Daily

pianist, practiceBack in the old days, people were encouraged to attend to daily prayers. Not just encouraged, bullied into it almost. So I have a hard time with the idea of “daily writing.” I’ll write when I damn well please, thank you very much.

But then I think of pianists. They need to play the piano, daily, for weeks and months and years to become merely proficient in their musicianship, much less able to say that they’re accomplished pianists.Tom Brady, Super Bowl, quarterback, New England Patriots

I watched the NFL playoffs this month with open-mouthed awe and listened to the stories of some of these incredible players. They became incredible by natural ability and then hours of daily practice throwing the ball, lifting weights, running sprints, building “kicking legs” and “tackling arms” since they were pre-teens. Day after day, month after month, year after year. Whether a quarterback, a wide receiver, or an offensive lineman, these guys only made it in their profession by spending their life – practicing. Continue reading

The Marathon Spirit

Boston marathon, women runners, running, BostonRunning a marathon is exhausting.

For the loved one of the runner.

Like, for a mom, for instance.

Six years ago my daughter trained for the Boston marathon. I watched her lose weight week by week as she increased her training miles. Her cheeks deepened in her face, her color reddened, matching her strawberry blonde hair. Her legs grew tauter and, yes, she even smiled more.

But I worried. How normal is it to get up at 4 a.m. and run for an hour in the dark and cold before the day begins? How safe is it to run after work at 5 p.m., in the New England dark cold of December and January, when the snow is hard and icy and the street lights dimmed by the freezing temperatures?

Oh yes, I worried like only a mother can.

But my daughter did not falter nor deter from her goal. She holds a deep stream of stubbornness within her – can’t for the life of me figure out where she got it.

I was proud of her, yet still cautious. By the last few weeks before Patriot’s Day – Marathon Day – her body was revolting, trembling in times of stillness. Her roommate had to rush her to the E.R. one night because she’d become too dehydrated.

Boston Marathon, spirit, running, Boston, runnersBut, there I stood on that Patriot’s Day, with my mom, a few yards from the finishing line on Boylston, ready to cheer our daughter/granddaughter four hours after she’d begun to run miles away from center city, early in the morning, with the thousands of other determined, strong, good-hearted men and women from around the world.

On Monday, I thought of that determination and resolve as I watched the horrifying scenes scrolled across our TV screens.

What has some wicked warped human being tried to pull asunder?

That day, six years ago, when I had cheered my daughter on to the end of her arduous run, I was lifted up myself. The thousands of people surrounding my mom and me were cheering too – not just for their loved ones, but for everyone who had placed their efforts and pains and promises right before us, with cramped legs, grimaced faces, but smiles wider than the world.

My soul was lifted that day – oh yes, as were all the souls who watched the miracle of the marathon. Even though we hadn’t pushed and pulled our bodies to their limits, we marveled and celebrated those who had. This celebration made us all one in celebrating the human spirit.

soul lifted, Boston marathon, American spirit

Lifted soul.

We Americans are known for our spirit – and watching the news on Monday, I realized why. Because we’re FREE. And in freedom, comes the ability to push and pull each other in our beliefs and in our struggles. Because we’re free, we’re open to celebrating the heritages and struggles and beliefs of others.

Because we’re free, we cheer on those who show an Olympian might to run 26.2 miles. And because we’re free, we cry with happiness as we watch those runners cross the finish line.

Because we’re free, no terror will stop our spirit. The spirit only thrives as it is strengthened.

So I salute those who train and run a marathon.

I salute those of us who cheer and wave and love all those who show us their marathon spirit.

A spirit that will never be pulled asunder.

America, spirit, marathon

American flags at the Boston Garden.

Running with Redford

running, Robert Redford, SF bayThirty minutes into my run today, as my body relaxes into a rhythmic routine on the picturesque path along the SF Bay, a mildly familiar figure runs toward me.

But I’m confused. Why do I feel like I know him, and yet I don’t?  The slight man is not particularly tall, but with a stance that’s sure and confident.  His running form is beautiful and light.  His clothes don’t give him away: black tights, a long gray sweatshirt that almost reaches his knees, and a wide black ski band across his forehead, almost hiding his light blonde hair.

But as I breeze past him, I running north and he running south, I realize that it’s… HIM.

Robert Redford.

“Oh my God,” I whisper. The Way We Were. Downhill Racer. Three Days of the Condor. The Sting.  As I list the movie titles out loud, my words become louder and louder.  All the President’s Men.  Jeremiah Johnson.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. 

Except for this one man, this one idol, I have never cared about actors or “famous” people of any kind.  But Robert Redford.  He has touched me in every movie, and I’ve just passed him in real life. 

Real, not reel!robert redford, movie star, movies, running

I don’t doubt that the running man is Robert Redford.  I had heard that he had family in the town and occasionally visited.  I’d heard of sightings once or twice a year.  But now?  On the running path, my running path?

I stop short, allowing a runner behind me to curse and swerve to avoid a collision.  After mumbling an apology, I turn around just as abruptly, and run toward the movie star.  I’m not going to stop him, or speak to him, or stalk him.  But I want to run past him for one more glorious look at that craggy and tanned face, with gorgeous crevices around his eyes and under his cheeks, a mature man who’s still handsome.

It’s not hard to catch up to Redford.  He’s actually, well, rather slow, despite his good form.  How I want to wave as I run by him, or shout out “Hi! I’m a big fan!” But I don’t want to disturb him, nor be a nuisance.

 I sigh and kick back into my pace, passing the man from the movies.  I feel an extra exhilaration from being near him though, and my pace quickens. The early morning sunlight gleams on the bay waters, and the birds flit across the blue expanse. My spirits rise, and I soar down that path like a roadrunner.

SF bay dawn, dawn, running

I’m on such a high that I don’t hear the voice at first.  Sounds like a distant fog horn, then a grumble, then a real human tone saying, “Miss, uh, Ma’am, uh, excuse me.  Please excuse me!”

I slow down and glance behind me.  Redford is puffing and panting as he tries to reach me.

“Please,” he calls out.  “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

I’m dumbfounded, but I slow down to let him catch up, and he shoots me a grateful look.

We jog slowly, so he can catch his breath. “Bob,” he finally says, holding out his hand.  “Bob Redford.”

“Oh!” I exclaim, as if surprised.  “Pamela Wight.”

Robert Redford“Pamela,” Bob exclaims, “you are the most unusual runner I have ever seen. You, well, I swear I saw you run off the ground!  How did you do that?”

“I just run my joy,” I explain.

“This is incredible, just beautiful. I’d like to capture this on film. Do you think … ?”

I shake my head no, smiling wide. “This can never be captured.  It happens rarely, and only on very special occasions.  Thank you though, Bob.”

I hug him quickly, stare briefly into his amazed face, and dash off into the early light of a new day, knowing as I run into the reds and oranges and pinks that I’m doing it again. 

I’m running off the ground.

(Wight’s Note:  100% non-fiction.  Well . . . 95%.)

Women running in sunset from