|Me and my sister, Pam, (left) at a 5K Race in Culver City, CA|
When I was 13, I had a big crush on the tall, Latin, gym teacher who lead the track team. I can see him now in his tight short, shorts, long tan legs, and dark blue windbreaker with a whistle around his neck. So what was a love sick 13 year old girl to do? I joined the track team. Surprisingly, a love affair began. But it was not with the luscious dream of Mr. Mendez; it was with running. Something happened when I began to build mileage with the help of Mr. Mendez. "Push!" he told me during practices. "You're a long distant runner, Stephanie. You have what it takes." That beautiful man planting the seed of what I could achieve changed my life. I would go on to longer and longer runs, and I eventually ran several marathons and proudly qualified to run the prized Boston Marathon.
Like running, meditation is a way to slow down our minds and to exist in a space of quiet, but it is not for everyone. Many friends have told me that sitting still for 20 minutes twice a day does not appeal to them. Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist Thick Nhat Hanh said, “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” We can do just that in myriad ways. For me it happens in the second mile of a run when my heartbeat is in sync with my breathing, and the rhythm of my feet striking the paved streets puts me in union with everything around me. The chatter in mind quiets, and I breath easily with a smile in my heart.
Thich Nhat Hanh also said, “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.” In the wake of the tragedy in Boston, it is necessary for us to put our attention on the families who are affected by the tragic acts of two brothers. Our prayers, love and all the light we can send is the right course of action in this time of suffering. But perhaps, just perhaps a few of us can find it in our hearts to pray for the two brothers who may not have had the seeds planted to go 26.2 miles and beyond, and whose pain spilled over in a horrifying way.