Monday, September 19, 2005

you can't win this one

I did the Terry Fox Run yesterday.

When I was eight years old and Terry Fox was running, it was the first time I really learned about and started to understand cancer.

Even though were weren't religious, I knew about praying and had some idea of how it was done. Every night without my parents knowing I would get on my knees next to my bed or lie there tucked in and fervently pray to God that the cancer wouldn't kill him. When Terry Fox died anyway, I felt like I understood cancer better than God.

(Yes, add me to the list of trillions who have been sorely disappointed by not getting what they prayed for. "Like, hellooooo, God? Remember me and all the things I want? No? Fine! What are you good for anyway besides creating sunsets and babies and chocolate and arctic flowers and the tide and belly laughs? I'm outta here!") (But against all that there's war and stupid fights and cancer and land mines and "the incredibly flawed design of the human knee which proves that God cannot exist" according to a friend of mine. But I digress.)

Anyway, my not-so-secret thought when read that $350 million for cancer research has been raised in Terry Fox's name and I see all these people out for the run remembering lost ones, running or walking for cancer survivors and people battling cancer now, it strikes this wistful ambivalent agnostic that maybe God did have a plan of some kind.

The whole atmosphere of the run is different from other athletic events. There are no timers or bibs. You can run with the mob or on your own. You can drop by sometime during the hours it's on with any size donation, without having registered, and just go do it, or you can spend weeks before collecting money and make a big fundraising project out of it. Without a clear goal other than doing what you can and what you like (there are no clock-timed winners in the run), it makes it a very personal and a very public thing all at once. You can think about people you miss and just how lucky you are to be outside, or daydream, or chat with strangers as you make your way along as far of the route as you feel comfortable doing. It's wonderful.


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