I run. Not quickly mind you, and not primarily for exercise. I’m sure that’s part of it, but certainly not the whole. I run to think. I run in contrast with my vocation as a knowledge worker. I run for metaphor.
I’m 40-something and hopefully at the middle of life. This could easily be my last day. I hold no special privilege amongst our tribe of 7 billion and I meet dying people every day. You – – my friend – – are one of them. I run slowly. I run-walk. I’m happy with a five hour marathon, not ambitious for a sub-four. But – – I don’t stop until I finish and I enjoy the time, even the pain. I am not a runner in the same way that I’m a writer. Writing is means and end. Running is the means to mental reprieve. Running is metaphor. So, from the middle, will I run a negative split? Will my second half be more focused and efficient than my first? Or will I slow down, only to deceive you with a mad dash to the finish line at the end?
I love to watch my sons run. They are naturally fleet and always beat me. I told the cross country runner my thought about strong finishes as he prepared for a half marathon. Yes, I believe in finishing strong. Faithful to my wife. Faithful to my sons. Faithful to my profession. Faithful to faith itself. Finish strong. But what of the sprint at the finish that I so often see in middle school meets? I discouraged it. To finish strong means you have nothing left. You are as likely to throw up as to grin in victory. You are spent. So that’s what he did. Daddy was proud. I want that. If I have forty more years (probably less), then may the first half serve as a solid foundation for the second. Physical strength and mental acuity have been decreasing from the peak at 30 and will continue to do so. So be it. Negative split. Is wisdom wasted on the old, youth on the young? Maybe, but I don’t really find that disturbing.
I’m actually excited about the second half of life. It took me decades to begin listening well. I want more time to practice. It took 10 years to resolve many of the doubts that trouble Russell now. Some are not resolved. It has only been two years since my call to the skeptical became evident – – an unusual call perhaps, but resonant with who I am. Here’s the thing about a negative split in metaphor – – we just don’t know where the middle is. I’m hopeful for more years, but ready today. If I’m blessed with more time, may I use it well. Spending it with you makes me feel it is not wasted.