I got to thinking in the past few days – I know, a dangerous thing for me to do – about how so many of the things I’ve been writing about recently are more like marathon events than sprints.
A marathon is a 26 mile 385 yard (42.195 km) race. The best runners can do it in a little over 2 hours; average runners may take 4 to 5 hours. I would probably take 2 – months, that is. Unless I had a coronary event before that.
Sprints are short, quick races – 60 m (indoors), 100 m, 200 m, never more than 500 m. The elite runners for the 100 m, for example, can complete the race in about 10 seconds – a brief flash in the pan. I, on the other hand, would be left in their dust, gaping at the speed while unmoved myself.
In my life, there have been many more marathon events than sprints. Not actual races, of course, but life events that play out over a longer time rather than events that are done in that flash.
As I noted, marathon events seem to be really predominating lately.
The first would be the commitment I have made to follow and write about Dan Ross, the young musician who is walking from Illinois to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. That will be a marathon times 100 – yes, he’s actually going to be walking approximately 2600 miles in his journey. That journey is sure to bring self-discovery in addition to his goals of drawing attention to the conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and raising funds for the non-profit ONE Spirit who work to improve the lives of those who live on the reservation.
Another marathon will be the clean-up following the flooding on Pine Ridge Reservation. I know, some will read this today and wonder “What flooding?” If they did not see my original posting or many Tweets, they surely will not have seen it in the national news media. That’s because the national news media hardly ever notices what happens in the middle of this country. When the problem is in the poorest county in the country, it is not going to attract national media attention unless it involves violence.
The marathon that will result from the flooding is not just the drying up of creeks and homes. It is the rebuilding of lives by people who have very few resources with which to do it. There will be no insurance to cover the damages. Homes will be patched as best they can be. Waterlogged contents which, in insured suburban homes would have been collected and disposed of, will be dried out to see if they can still be used. There is no money to replace them. That is not a good thing in a place where many homes already have problems with black mold. Wet furniture, clothing and bedding will be terrific breeders of mold as the weather improves. There may be pollutants and toxins in the water that flooded the homes. They will remain when the water evaporates. Some things will simply be gone with the water. It will take a long, long time for most to recover. Talk about a marathon!
Relationships are marathons, if they last. Whether it is the relationship of spouse, lover, friend, sibling – they all take work and they don’t survive without a commitment to being an active participant in the life of the other persons. Gratefully I have a good number of these marathons going already and some new relationships that I hope will develop into marathons. There is nothing wrong with a sprint, of course. The acquaintance who is a joy for a time, then moves out of your life has merit. But it is the marathon relationships which, while certainly entailing work, bring the greatest joy and benefit.
I have been running a health marathon for over 45 years, coping with fibromyalgia. While some have claimed their fibromyalgia was cured, I do not personally believe that to be true. I believe they did not truly have fibromyalgia in the first place. Otherwise, more of us would be taking advantage of that cure. Instead, most with fibromyalgia run the same marathon that I am running – to make the best life they can with the fewest number of flare-ups. It is challenging, but so are most marathons.
My final marathon is my personal crusade to bring awareness of the living conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation to a nation that is uninformed and poorly educated. The people in this country have come to depend on a small number of commercial news outlets to tell them what is happening in their world, their nation and their lives. If it isn’t on television, they don’t know about it.
Mind you, I am not passing judgment here. I was no different at one time. But I do have a couple of assets – a healthy curiosity and desire for life-long learning. When I learned about the reservation by first sponsoring a child there, then doing research and finally traveling there, I vowed that I would not let the beautiful, proud, generous Lakota people go unnoticed any longer. As I have taught myself about technology and social media, I have moved further and further along the path of this marathon. I am no expert at either the technology or social media outlets.
But I am passionate about this journey. I believe that, if the people of this nation knew about the conditions and loss of hope that have become the norm in these sovereign first nation communities, they would do something. They would demand change! I believe this because I have seen it happen with other disasters, both here and abroad. Americans do not care who is in need; they respond from their hearts and wallets.
It should be an embarrassment to this nation that we allow Third World conditions to exist in the center of our nation. I am committed to the marathon that will bring this to light and help bring about change. It can be exhausting as any marathon is. But it is, for me, the most important marathon in my life.