You can’t attain proper physical condition unless it is preceded by mental and moral condition. Practice moderation and balance in all that you do. This advice, easy to remember, is also very effective. There is a choice you have to make, in everything. ~Coach John Wooden
Last week, we experienced an excruciating intersection of physical condition, mental condition and moral condition. The bombings at the Boston Marathon. This tragedy is the polar opposite of what Wooden is talking about in this quote…which has more to do with ongoing training than high competition-meets-terrorism. Yet, there we were. Elite athletes, non-elite athletes (who qualify to run a 26.2 race!!!!), charity runners and marathon supporters (many of them athletes as well), gathered for an annual sporting event. Unexpectedly, two bombs explode at the finish line, and we witness the intersection with the mental conditioning and moral fortitude necessary to respond to trauma in milliseconds.
And, as the days following the tragedy unfolded, and many of us unfolded from our emotional fetal positions, we made a choice as a nation. A choice to embrace each other rather than isolate ourselves. At the interfaith service honoring the victims, our president said, “Boston, you’re my home” (Referencing the Standells anthem? Let’s say yes, he was…). He painted a loving portrait of Boston: centuries of immigrant communities; educational institutions open to multinationals; celebrations of excellence in the arts, science and intellect. “Every third Monday in April,” said President Obama, “you welcome people from all around the world to the Hub — for friendship and fellowship and healthy competition.”
Massachusetts librarian Maura Deedy wrote a moving post on being an enthusiastic spectator of the Boston Marathon. And, as I mourned with her about the bombings, I started to feel myself settle into the realization that we will be able to return to a less drastic pace. We have to! We cannot live day-to-day in total shock and disbelief. As Maura says, “[a] marathon is a study in resilience, perseverance, hard work and courage .” Hard work that comes from the day-to-day choices we make. Choices in physical condition preceded by mental and moral conditioning. Choices in moderation and balance–empowering ourselves to move forward.
We carry on. We race. We strive. We build, and we work, and we love — and we raise our kids to do the same. And we come together to celebrate life, and to walk our cities, and to cheer for our teams. When the Sox and Celtics and Patriots or Bruins are champions again — to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans — the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street.
And this time next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon.
Bet on it. ~Barack Obama
Boston, you’re my home.