I laced up my sneakers for a run this morning, but left all the gadgets at home. Listening to music or watching my pace seemed silly today. Allowing myself to be absorbed in the soothing rhythm of feet hitting pavement while my mind wandered free seemed the best tonic.
The news cycle is such a relentless beast, we worry we will miss something if we step away. I ran away instead. I couldn't watch those images of that poor man being blown off his feet repeatedly, with the plume of smoke rising to the side of the screen. Memories came rushing back, of planes hitting towers over and over and over again.
I remembered going to the supermarket a few hours after the towers fell. A shocked market employee was stocking the meat department in a nearly empty store. She turned to me and said, "Who would want to do this to us? Why would they do this to Americans? We're the good guys!"
We have been disabused of that particularly insular, John Wayne-inspired world view. Twelve years later, no American citizen can possibly believe that fantasy. The list of our enemies has not changed that much since then, except now we are collectively much more aware of who is on it.
Thank goodness, we haven't thrown in the towel. That much was obvious yesterday. Darkness and evil rolled forth, and light rushed into the void it created. Physicians and law enforcement officers who had just finished running 26.2 miles turned around and ran back, into the chaos, to lend their skills where they were desperately needed. People comforted and helped and just plain got out of the way, which is sometimes the most important act of all.
All I could do this morning was run, push my body out of its natural state of rest into action. That's all we can do. It's certainly better than the tendency to back into our shell, to pull the covers over our head, to lock the front door and hope it all goes away. It won't, that much is clear. We have to be resolved to follow the examples set for us: to run back, instead, to bring the light where it is most needed.