Today we have reached the halfway point in our little 25 day journey. With the completion of this, the 13th post, there will only be 12 posts remaining to be written. So far this journey has not been the most difficult thing I have ever undertaken, but it certainly has not been the easiest either. When I wake, the awareness that I must write something today is one of the first coherent thoughts my mind forms. So far I have not missed any deadlines, though it has been surprisingly close a few times. Tonight will be one of those times.
To an extent, I am at the mercy of inspiration, a thought that takes root in my mind and guides me to a revelation or observation about the world and how peace is a part of it. I have a list of topics, but they are only useful if I can find one I connect with enough to write about. As we reach the middle point today, I find that I am running out of time, and the only inspiration I have is a repetition of an earlier idea.
Endurance is the word that comes to mind for tonight. Endurance is described as “the fact or power of enduring, bearing pain and hardships”. It is very similar to persistence, which is described as “lasting, especially in spite of opposition”. I spoke of persistence in pursuing peace by highlighting an organization that I feel has shown persistence in pursuing its stated goals of peace. They have continued to put energy and passion into their cause, and we hope that one day they will see the fruits of their labor.
To me endurance is a more familiar word. I occasionally run endurance races, half marathons and marathons are long races which require many steps to reach the finish line. It is this that brings to mind a thought for our path towards peace. If you successfully complete a normal marathon, you will travel 26.2 miles on foot. Since people are built differently, we all have different strides, but most people completing a marathon will take between 30,000 and 45,000 steps. That is a LOT of steps. Assuming that I have a roughly 3’ stride, in my recorded running career, I have taken 1,355,200 steps.
Do you know how many of those individual steps I specifically remember? To be honest, I really only remember one specific step in the middle of one of those marathons that resulted in a twisted ankle. I remember that I felt pain, but I do not remember what the pain felt like. The rest of the remaining million plus steps are lost to my memory.
The running component of a marathon is very monotonous. You lift your right foot, push forward with your left foot, and then your left foot leaves the ground. Your right foot strikes the ground ahead of it, and pushes against the ground as your left foot travels forward to strike the ground ahead of it. Repeat this process over and over. There is little variation. To finish a marathon, you have to continue to take steps until you are done. Frankly, a large part of the mental ability you need to finish a marathon is the ability to deal with boredom, especially when you are slow like me.
Our individual path to peace is not a sprint, but rather a marathon, filled with step after step that could be mind-numbingly similar. As you strive towards peace, you will find yourself offering forgiveness over and over, you will adopt an attitude of selflessness over and over, you will probably make similar sacrifices over and over. It will get old, and you will be tempted to quit. If you are a pursue peace like I run races, you might even find that your steps slow down, it takes longer to make them. Occasionally your forward progress will even completely stop.
I have so far avoided running the wrong way in a race, but as you pursue peace, you might find that you have somehow gotten turned around, and you will have to retake steps you have already taken. You will feel like kicking yourself for having to cover the same ground again. Your desire to quit may threaten to stop you in your tracks.
After such a boring and monotonous description of pursuing peace, you may even wonder if it is a journey worth beginning. You might be asking me right now why I run endurance races. What could possibly drive anyone to complete such a monotonous task?
My friends, the finish line is calling. It is for this reason alone that we must not cease our efforts before we reach it. No one puts a “23 out of 26.2” sticker on the back window of their car. Only those who finish boast of their accomplishments.
When you cross the finish line in a race, there is a celebration. Imagine the celebration we will enjoy when we have obtained peace. It will be worth it, and the memory of the monotony will quickly fade.