Tonight was a life lesson in perspective. My husband and I had the opportunity to see the movie “Stronger”. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a movie based on the book written by Jeff Bauman, double amputee Boston marathon bombing survivor. If you haven’t yet seen the movie, cancel your plans for this weekend and grab a box of tissues. It’s amazing.
I’m currently working on a project for the Arredondo Family Foundation, who’s founders and namesake actually played a big role in Jeff Bauman’s marathon story. Carlos Arredondo is the infamous man in the cowboy hat that saved Jeff’s life during the aftermath of that horrific day. Carlos and his lovely wife, Melida, have a foundation that supports military suicide awareness and conducts trainings to help military families deal with PSTD and aid in suicide prevention. The foundation does amazing work and I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with them on getting their charity marathon program off the ground. They invited us to a screening of the film and I’m incredibly grateful because it not only provided a chance to see a bit of the story from the other side, but it also afforded me a little perspective on my own life.
The Boston Marathon has been very bittersweet for me the past several years. There is much emotion wrapped up in that one single race, it’s hard sometimes for me to sort out exactly where I stand on it. 2013 was the first year I ever came face to face with the race as a spectator and that day changed my life forever. It catapulted me into this life of marathons and the path that’s lead me to where I am now, for better or worse.
That day in 2013 was the most surreal day of my life. I can remember walking home through the back alleys of Boylston street after being ushered out the back door of the bar we waited in a block and a half away from the explosions. There was so much confusion and devastation around us it was hard to fully grasp the depth of what was happening. The struggle to communicate with family and friends or to get any information about what was happening only exasperated the panic on the streets of the city.
As I watched the Hollywood depiction of the moments around the explosions tonight I felt waves of the same feelings. I felt a pit in my stomach as I braced for that moment. Regardless of how many times I see those images, it still feels crushing. But this time as I watched the story from the eyes of someone who arose from those ashes, it felt a little different.
To say that I can in any way relate to Jeff Bauman’s story seems almost like a discredit to him. I can’t. Yes, I was there that day but I was a block and a half away from where he stood, behind the safety of a walled off building. I didn’t come face to face with the same destruction and chaos that he did. I can’t begin to know what that was like. I will never understand what it’s like to be consumed by the terror of that day, or of the days, weeks, months and even years that followed.
At one point in the film they make mention of him leaving the hospital to finally go home 6 weeks after the bombing. As I sat there watching tonight, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for the way I’ve been reacting to my current physical setbacks. Friday marks 6 weeks from my minor, arthoscopic, licked on by kittens, hip surgery. I’m home. I’m walking. I have only minor pain and I will, in the grand scheme of things, very shortly be fully recovered. How could I possibly be complaining?
Perspective is a funny thing. You have to have slipped down at least a little bit for your mind to find what could possibly lie beneath. That’s when perspective pops up out of necessity and sweeps you up before you get consumed with self pity. It brings brightness to the shady corners of your life and sometimes it’s the guiding light you need to find your way out of even the darkest spaces.
Jeff Bauman is perspective. But not because of his inspiring tale of heroism (I mean, theres that too), but because of his struggle. Because he fell down and he gave up and he got swallowed by self pity. Because he was fucking human. And despite all of that, he got back up. Again and again.
Tonight I walked out feeling a whole slew of emotions, much like every other time I’m faced with the story of this day. Sadness and heartbreak, for the lives that were lost and shattered that day. Fear, for what this means about the future. Anger, for what two kids took from this city. But also pride, for what the city gave back in return. Hope, for all of the good brought out in the wake of destruction. Honor, for being able to run the streets of a city that could not be broken. Courage and determination, to keep moving forward. And most of all gratitude, for what people like Jeff Bauman and every other person touched by this tragedy have taught me.
Today is a gift and so is tomorrow. It’s a cliche needlepoint saying, I know. But it’s true. Every day that I catch myself thinking “I wish I could run today”, I need to stop and think, “maybe not today but someday, and that’s enough”. I wake up each morning and put my 2 feet on the floor and for that I am grateful. It may not be perfect but this day and this life is a something to be grateful for. As a wise soul once said, “Life is life”, and that my friends is the ultimate No Zero Days perspective.