My daughter just ran ten miles for the first time with her friend Kristi.
Having my propensity toward rosy cheeks, she got beet red:
She did not, however, inherit the capacity for long-distance running from me or from her father.
She earned every mile from her own effort. Having worked hard to run in two 5K races in the past, I am proud that she will run a half-marathon soon.
If you have read Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, you may remember that I pounded out a very fast 50-yard dash, impressing my gym teacher, who went on to nickname me “Rosy Cheeks.”
So I guess you could call me a sprinter. In fact, when I look back on my career, I’d use that term metaphorically also. I moved from challenge to challenge, pouring my energies into quick bursts. The longest I ever persisted in the same job was the eight years I spent as the president of Goshen College.
Before that and after that, I moved from one academic or administrative task to another, usually when someone else asked me to do something.
I’ve sometimes felt envious of the marathoner, who puts “slow twitch” muscle fibers to such good use, continuing past all obstacles to draw upon deep reservoirs of inner strength.
However, what comes more naturally to me, what I seem to be built for, is the dash, an explosive burst of energy. One dash leads to another and then to another.
It would be easy to say I am only a sprinter. And to try to justify sprinting v. long distance runs, or careers.
Dividing the world into two classes can be fun. But fruitless.
How many times have you heard a statement that begins by dividing the world into two classes?
The famous humorist Robert Benchley pricked that bubble with these words:
There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not. Both classes are extremely unpleasant to meet socially, leaving practically no one in the world whom one cares very much to know.
I’ve decided, after pondering the two classes of sprinter and marathoner, that I aspire to neither. As a Mennonite, I like to look for a “third way” when presented with two alternatives.
In this case, the third way I choose is to be a marathon sprinter. Each of the bursts of energy in my life has led me to the next over all sixty-five of my years. When woven together, like a braided rug, each individual sprint, like an old t-shirt, contributes to a marathon whole, like a large rug.
Writing a book and then touring with it has been a major sprint. I’m still waiting to feel the familiar nudge that calls the next sprint out of me. Perhaps you will be the person whose story inspires my next step.
At my age, it may look more like a jog or a walk, but that’s fine with me. It’s all part of the journey home.
Are you a sprinter or a marathoner? A marathon sprinter or a sprint marathoner? I’d love to hear stories about running, metaphors, dualisms, whatever came to mind as you read this story.
Next week? Stay tuned for the big Writing Dualism: Pantser v. Plotter