We are constantly told “Go for it”. Nikes encourages us to “Just do it”. We are, it seems, to always plow ahead, to keep going. Is there no room to take a break? A moment to pause and reflect?
I recently read an article about a guy who has run every day, with only one day missed, for many years. Even that day, the day when he suffered a heart attack, he wanted to run, but the pesky doctors wouldn’t let him do it. He even missed his grandmother’s funeral due to a run, although the author is quick to point out that this runner attended her wake instead. I don’t know what the author’s intent was when writing this article, but I was not inspired. Instead, I felt sad for this man, who, it seems to me, has lost control of his running.
Over Pesach (Passover), there were certain days where I could not run. Not because I didn’t want to, or due to injury, rather it is prohibited according to Jewish law. Instead of feeling a sense of resentment, I appreciated the extra days of rest.
Of all of the 613 commandments from the Torah (Bible), perhaps my favorite is the obligation to imitate G-d. Just as He is merciful, we are to be merciful. Just as he clothes the poor, we are told to the same. One great rabbi pointed out that there are times when G-d holds himself back, so to speak and that we are to do the same.
I recently spoke with my closest childhood friend. He told me about plans for his son’s bar mitzvah this coming October. When I heard the date, I froze. Wasn’t that the same date as the marathon I’d been planning to run? The one where I hoped to qualify for the Boston Marathon? I thought of that runner who never misses a day. I knew what he would do. For me that was not an option. I thought of trying to drive from his house to the marathon, but the distance was too far. With regret, I accepted that I would miss my race. This would be my chance to show that I was in control of running.
I got home and checked and realized that I had been mistaken. The bar mitzvah and the marathon were two weeks apart. I breathed a sigh of relief. I really would have missed the marathon. I am glad I didn’t have to make the choice.