Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Journey, Complimentary

My wife takes the same route to work every day. She passes the same buildings, the same trees and the same signs everyday. And everyday, one of those signs sticks out. It began as an ordinary Stop sign, but someone with a can of gray spray paint changed that red octagon, so it brightens my wife's morning again and again.

The sign now reads, "Don't STOP Believin'" instead of the everyday ordinary STOP. The sign now brings a little joy to her heart and conjures up a few notes in her head. Not bad for a $1.29 can of spray paint and a misdemeanor.

As we were driving to her office this past weekend, I was putting together a playlist for the Flying Pig marathon water station we were going to be working. I put together all the songs we had in our library that had the word "run" in the chorus and anything that had ever been in a Rocky movie.

As we drove by that STOP sign, I decided to splurge and buy the Journey song that my wife found herself humming every morning. It wasn't in our library, although I'd considered buying it many times. Up until now it just didn't seem worth it.

If you've never spent 6 hours relentlessly encouraging complete strangers as many of them struggle through one of the hardest things they've ever done, I highly recommend it. Five miles from the finish of a marathon is a grueling thing to see, but inspiring as well.

There were people who looked like they were simply out for a (very wet) Sunday morning jog and people who looked like they were in complete and utter agony. There were people who were extremely fit and looked the part, and there were people who looked like they should never consider running at all. There were people in costumes, there were people in trash bags, there were people in expense running gear, there were people in sweatpants, there were people running barefoot. And it was my job to cheer for them all (and pick up their trash).

It was a rain-soaked blast. Cheering for these people was so much fun. Some of them had desperation written all over their faces. You could see their struggle in every inch of their tired, aching bodies. Shouts and cheers from complete strangers were the only things holding them up and keeping them going. It was gratifying to see the physical impact of encouragement.

As I stood with my trash bag held out, cheering for people and telling them they could make it if they kept pushing, one woman stopped. She finished her drink and dropped her cup in my bag. She smiled and exclaimed, "You're right! I can do it - just "Don't stop believin', right!?!"

She turned and jogged off as Journey blared from the speakers behind us both. $1.29 well spent.

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