Marathons, Memories, and Metaphors

“Looking good!”

“You got this!”

“Go, runners!”

It was mile 23 of the 2018 Chicago Marathon – a drizzly, 50-degree Sunday afternoon.  Some of the runners looked like they had no business signing up for this endeavor.  It was 4 hours into the ordeal and they clearly needed all the encouragement we could muster.

Plus a little levity.  One sign read,  “Hell, you’ve come this far.  Might as well finish!”

Finally we saw Alex. Looking strong and spirited. She turned to her older brother, “Jared, jog with me. Give me a pep talk!”   Which he did.  Enough to melt a mother’s heart.

If nothing else, a marathon conjures up memories and metaphors.

It seems like yesterday Joy and I ran a marathon together. We were 27. Alex’s age. On the cusp of careers, parenting, and life events we never anticipated.  Spending hours on that jogging path set the stage for a lifelong friendship.

Now for the tired metaphor.  We Baby Boomers are at mile 23 and we want to finish well.  Leave a legacy.  End strong.

According to Jonathan Rauch’s  Happiness Curve, we may have fallen prey to discontent and malaise in our midlife —  but come Mile 23 — in our 50s/60s, we can experience a sense of well-being – a deep satisfaction with life (major caveat here says Mr. Rauch — he is assuming all things have remained equal, meaning crisis-free).  We savor relationships and value community; we put the corporate ladder aside in favor of pursuing passions.  The author says we substitute “competition for compassion”.

We retired folks (or TRBs — “Those Retired Bitches” – as one working friend describes us)  have time for compassion.  (Oh and also for watching Hallmark Christmas movies in our PJs!  9 days to go as I write this!)

Small and big acts of kindness.  Brett plowing snow beyond our house – anonymously;  Joy at the horse barn assisting kids smiling ear to ear from their high perch;  Stef tutoring a teenager from Syria; Jim, unasked, driving us to the airport; Jeanne raising money for adults with challenges; Cathy honing her social work skills at grocery stores; Sally taking doggie love to the nursing home, Joy and David volunteering at a dog shelter and naturally leaving with a puppy.

That’s Mile 23 living at its best.

So as the sign said, “Hell, you’ve come this far…you might as well finish!!”

And finish strong!


Today’s Takeaway –

-Look for ways to spread joy today.  You don’t have to come home with a puppy.  (But maybe that’s not the worst idea ever!)

-Savor friendships.  Like red wine, they get better with age.

Enjoy Mile 23!

xox Barclay and Joy

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