I woke up Sunday morning feeling sad about the state of the world.
But I believe in what the artist Maira Kalman has called “the optimism of breakfast,” so I grabbed a newspaper and went out for coffee.
I didn’t realize until I got there that the coffeehouse I chose was along the marathon route. It was still early, 7 a.m., and marathon watchers were only beginning to gather on the sidewalk. For a while I read the paper and more than once found myself on the verge of tears. So much bitterness and meanness and sadness in the world.
Would it ever end?
Then I heard the whoop of a police siren. I looked up and a fleet of motorcycle police sped by, not because anything was wrong but to signal the approach of the wheelchair marathoners.
The wheelchairs sped by, the racers’ arms pumping, the bystanders cheering.
Why was I crying?
The determination of those racers, I guess. And also because it made me happy, in a sad kind of way, to see the officers participating in something happy.
After a while, the first pack of runners sprinted past and I cried again.
And then, with the sidewalk crowd growing, a man called out, “It’s the leading women!” and two little boys next to him whooped and the crowd went nuts.
“It’s the women!” one of the boys cried and waved his mother over. And then I really had to cry.
It’s the women. Thanks, kid.
I stayed until the rain got heavy. The temperature dropped. I headed home with one last glance at the runners who kept on going, though now they were drenched, which led me to this deep thought about the symbolism of it all:
The race is long, folks. We gotta keep on running, even in the cold rain.
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