Column: Running a long marathon no one asked to take part in

Opening Our Eyes by Nan Dickie

By Nan Dickie

Contributor

It feels like we’ve been in this pandemic a very long time — much longer than seven or eight weeks.

But hey, who’s counting?

It feels like forever since things were normal. In fact, we forget what normal was.

It feels as if we are running a marathon. We’re all in it — the whole human race. No one asked to take part in this run. To do so would be nuts. We were thrust into it seemingly overnight, and we are still running today. And yet, at the same time, we were asked to stay home. Quite the conundrum.

There was no time to train for this marathon; it happened so fast and unexpectedly. Suddenly, we billions were running.

No sooner had we all bunched up at the starting line than it was announced we had to spread out to two metres apart. Somehow we obliged, and we have managed to keep our distance ever since.

Strangely, there are no crowds cheering us on, because we’re all in this together. However, we encourage each other on as we walk, limp, swagger and lope, spurring others on between our panted breaths.

Pats on the back are not allowed.

We grab cups of water on the fly from gloved hands at drink stations every six kilometres. We look up at the sky — is that the sun shining through those grey clouds?

Read more: Column: Time and space take on new meaning amid pandemic

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Read more: Column: What we are now experiencing is grief

We approach the umpteenth hill — when will they ever end?

Suddenly, there is loud applause. It’s seven o’clock. We’re running past a hospital. We shout accolades at health-care workers coming off their shifts to join in the run.

Have you hit the runner’s “wall” yet, that point at about 20 miles into the 26-mile run (or 32

kilometres into the 42-km run) when one experiences intense fatigue and loss of energy? The point when you are more than ready to quit? Well, we have to suck it up: there is no quitting this marathon.

We have to push through to the end.

No one says we can’t take a break from running when we hit the wall. Instead of spinning our wheels (or our feet) all the time, we can take a break from running. No one says we can’t rest a while.

We didn’t complete this marathon in four to six hours, nor in four to six weeks. We’re still running. But hopefully we will have finished it in four to six months. Then we can congratulate ourselves for succeeding in a feat that was, for many of us — at one time not long ago —unthinkable.

Nan Dickie is a local author, speaker and former facilitator of a depression support group in Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm

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