Love Marathon

Posted on Oct 24, 2018

Love Marathon.

It’s not what you think. Were you thinking that? Oh my!

Last weekend in Prospect Park there was a marathon. Or maybe it was a half marathon. I just know there were a lot of people running. By the time I got to the park there were also people walking home with their friends’ arms around them and wearing impressive shiny silver ponchos that someone donated so the athletes wouldn’t catch a post-run chill.

As my pup and I tried to get across the crowded path without interrupting anyone’s stride I was so impressed by all the people shouting and smiling and encouraging their runners. Names were sung out: “Jimmy! Jimmy Go! Go Jimmy!! You got this!” Wooooo! There were also signs, music and even some dancing. The positive vibrations emanating from our Brooklyn patch of green were, all in all, pretty darn bright.

After making our way safely across the running route, and before ducking off onto our usual quiet path, Maggie and I stopped to lap up a little more excitement. I started noticing that it wasn’t just individuals shouting to their friends, there was a ton of open-ended encouragement. Along with general high-fiving and orange slice passing, bystanders were grinning and shouting “Go, runners go! You got this! Wooooo!”

Then out of the blue, I’m all choked up.

If you are someone who watches marathons a lot, this gorgeous good will may be old news. (It certainly isn’t fake news.) But maybe because the national conversation feels so angry, and the perspective of our government so small and narrow, it can seem like kindness, compassion and generosity have become an endangered species. Maybe that is why  I felt filled with wonder and extraordinarily lucky to witness these qualities in their natural habitat; our communal experience.

I realized too that this is what we need to be doing ALL THE TIME. Not the running (no, probably not), but the remembering that everyone we know or see or can imagine or not imagine, are those runners—many facing challenges of body, mind and heart  as relentless as any trial of endurance. We need to cheer each other on more. Maybe constantly. Look how you are parking that car! Excellent! Toting that baby around all day? Amazing! Cooking dinner for five after a long day at work? Superb.

You get the idea.Consider it a love marathon.

In my yoga classes this week we have been training. Class begins with students looking around the room and then closing their eyes and choosing someone they don’t know and wishing them a good practice. This is a simple variation of a traditional Buddhist Metta meditation and similarly designed to sweeten the mind. One lovely translation of the Pali word Metta is Unconditional Friendliness. As the students struggle through the class’ full spectrum of challenges I remind them to keep their secret yogi close to their hearts and cheer them on. At the end we meditate on our new friend once more, wishing them a beautiful day.

Students have reported feeling lighter, stronger and more filled with joy, just from the experience of opening to the natural generosity of their own hearts. I imagine they have also taken that energy out into their worlds in some way. It is easy these days to keep forgetting who we really are, to get lost. The love marathon reminds us to keep coming back.