On the eve of a Big Day (a Big Turkey Day, of course), I have to tell you about another Big Day. Not that it was Big for me, but it was extremely Big for those immediately involved, mildly Big for those peripherally involved, and of great amusement (and happiness) to someone who is only relationally involved, that being yours truly. As I said, I’m only relationally involved. But I feel like I had a tiny bit of influence on this coming about, and that brings a smile.
Call me self-centered, but I run for me. The list of wins are obvious and long: physical health, mental health, friends, fun, and a lot of laundry. Once I get over that, I run so that what I get out of it might keep me around a little longer to continue to keep my wife up while I read late into the night (truth: she’s out before I’m on page three and never complains about my leaving the light on), and torture my daughters with bad jokes, which they do often enjoy even if they don’t like to admit it. Go one or more notches down the reasons why list, and it’s fair to say I run to give others the hint that it’s not a bad idea to go back and look at reason number one as it applies to themselves.
When I think of my influence on others, I don’t forget that it was a co-worker’s influence on me that brought me back to the sport and all of the life-changing effects it’s had over the last eight and a half years. Thanks, Joan! Over the years I like to think I’ve given that forward. I don’t fool myself into thinking that I can be the only reason someone else decides to strap on a pair of shoes and take some control of their destiny, but I can’t disown the few grains I may have put on one side of their scale of decision.
A few years back, Niece the Elder, now Dr. Niece the Elder and a licensed physical therapist who sadly lives too far away for me to mooch random services (lucky her) took up our sport. I certainly wasn’t the primary cause, but my being wrapped up in this endeavor wasn’t lost on her, either. We’ve since enjoyed joint adventures at the Boilermaker, Wineglass, on random roads, and notably at the annual Pie & Glove, the local turkey trot in her area (which I’ll miss this year, not travelling, all the better with the nasty weather). That latter event isn’t grand and glorious, but with more than one of us sucked into the sport, it became a family event. The last few years our clan – mine and sis’s – have made the trip to the starting line, and just about everyone has jumped in. Positive good spread around.
Cut to the next scene, and Niece the Junior, now in grad school in the grand capital of hill work, Miami (flatter than Houston, I think, and that’s saying something!), has caught the bug. Again, I certainly wasn’t the primary cause, or probably even secondary. But with Big Sis in on the fun, Ancient Uncle hovering about, and other friends and acquaintances, running and fitness become mainstream norms, so much easier to plunge into. Of course, not having to run hills, or run in snow, and having the beach and ocean to plunge into just down the street can’t hurt, either. Anyway, the point is that Niece the Junior dove in and decided she’s was going big or going home, and targeted her first half marathon. For this I have one word: Woot!
Sixth paragraph, and we aren’t even to the action. (Dearest Spouse was right this evening in telling me I’m too verbose.) My point up to here is that we all influence others by what we do, and those who we’ve influenced continue to influence, and so on, ad nauseam. So when something cool and good happens that might not have happened, or at least might not have happened quite that way, we can smile and say, “I had a tiny bit of this.”
Niece the Junior signed up for her first half marathon, the Disney Wine & Dine, which is somewhat unusual in that it’s held at ten at night, perhaps the better to increase your consumption of flying protein, also known as insects, in the Florida climate, or more likely to avoid the crowds in the theme parks you’re running through and not have to get up at three in the morning to do it. Like everything else Disney, it’s highly produced (no judgment attached to that statement, just the facts, ma’am), so whereas there’s a reasonably big video screen at the Boston Marathon Athlete’s Village, there is (I am told) a REALLY BIG video screen at the Disney equivalent, where fourteen thousand runners are milling about, pondering their upcoming journey through the Magic Kingdom, and staying entertained out of a corner of their eye. Amidst this mass of track-shoed humanity, many of them in costume for added fun, a Roving Video Crew wanders, randomly cornering anyone they find generally interesting, cute, or simply in their path, stuffing the microphone in their faces and doing live interviews, broadcast live on that REALLY BIG screen for all to see, and through the REALLY BIG sound system, to hear as well.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t there. Most of this is based on what I heard later. Some of it I may fill in with conjecture because I like to tell a good story. And let’s face it, this is a good story.
Said boyfriend of Niece the Junior, who is also running the race albeit injured (spoiler alert: she smokes him, but he had a good excuse) apparently knows people who know people who know where to get good stuff off the back of a truck, or if not that, at least how to contact – and manipulate – entities like a Roving Video Crew wandering among the masses at a Disney event. Said boyfriend has a plan, but operational security is a must. Said boyfriend executes plan, informing just enough assets on the ground (such as Dr. Niece the Elder, who flew in for the race with little sis) to assure the event attains Epic Status, while still assuring operational security.
Roving Video Crew just so happens upon Niece the Junior and interviews her, live on the REALLY BIG screen, in front of fourteen thousand milling runners about her upcoming first half marathon. You ready? You nervous? You look good in that tutu! Many likely don’t notice, as this scene has graced the screen many times that evening. But when they’re done with her, they turn to him, and presumably, knowing that this was just a little bit pre-arranged, don’t fret when he takes the microphone…
And fourteen thousand people scream.
Now, was that cool, or what?
(She said yes.)
Besides due congratulations, I smile, thinking that I had a tiny, tiny, tiny (really tiny, but non-zero) bit of this. The Moment would have happened, sometime, somewhere, maybe just as it did, but maybe, possibly, not quite, not there, not like that, because for it to happen like that, she had to run. And why stop there? Let’s take this back a notch. Really, Joan had a tiny bit of this, too, and until I send her the link to this story, she’ll have had absolutely no idea what she helped wrought.
Congratulations! And never stop being a positive force in the world.