I recently watched the movie Revolutionary Road. I must admit, it could be a chick flick but I am certain their are men out there who would really enjoy it. The two main actors were exceptional (hello Leo) and it was quite a statement on suburban living...even it was in the 50's. After I saw it, I was running and could not stop thinking about it!
In the past I have mentioned that I tend to make up crazy stories while I run and of course this was no exception. I imagined a very elaborate story involving a bottle of wine, a set of poolside deck chairs and Leo's glorious eyes..I digress.
In the movie, there is Frank a spirited young man with goals and aspirations who eventually falls into the same non-descript job his father held where he rides the train to the city and sits at a cubicle. April is his wife who at one time wanted to be an actress but now finds herself in the position of doting housewife and mother waiting while her man brings home the bacon. The tone of the movie is that of the deadening impact of cultural suburbia turning its occupants into lifeless souls. Without giving too much away, you feel sorry for both characters at one point or another and I doubt there is anyone out there that does not find some mirroring in their own relationship.
I live in the suburbs, I have a loving husband that I adore, 2 children - a boy and girl of which the boy is older, a two story house, 2 cars and a small yard with a wooden jungle gym. I work outside of the home but let's face it, despite my vast education, my salary would hardly pay the bills making the man of the house the primary breadwinner. He commutes to work and often comes home to his dinner warming up in the oven. So despite the generations between this film's story and now, I find myself in a nearly comparable position. Does that mean I will eventually face the same crumbling grip on reality? In some ways, I chose this life but it's not like I laid out a set of instructions and checked them off my list.. Two story house in the burbs - check, one boy and one girl - check. Trip to Italy for the weekend - check (oops scratch that - that was my other life).
Running along, I wondered if I was at risk of being sucked into the vortex of suburbia wasteland. It occurred to me that there was one dramatic difference - no where in the movie did the female lead follow through on something extraordinary. As much as I beat on myself when I miss a few runs because of the other things that fill my life, I still run a lot more than most people out there. I have no idea what the stats are but I am certain there is only a small percentage of people (particularly women) that can run for more than 20 minutes at a time. In the film, April is likely feeling the effects of not only her compromised life but also the list of accomplishments unfilled. Disappointment in yourself can be more toxic than swimming in one of our polluted water bodies.
I decided that if people only found something that makes them feel extraordinary than perhaps your soul would stay in tact - even if you live in a brick box surrounded by other, nearly identical brick boxes. When I run, I feel the blood pumping and the lungs filling and I love the sound my feet make when hitting the ground and even the strange twinge I get in my 35 year old hips that have borne two children. When I run in events the energy around me from the participants and the spectators is as addictive as refined sugar. The ever popular "runners high" can ride along with me all day helping to ward off the blues, lower the blood pressure and keep stress under control.
There is no doubt that I will never win a gold medal or even my age category. I don't have lunch with political power houses, take weekend trips to Peru or write bestselling novels but running is an extraordinary aspect of my existence. I am certain that running provides me the capacity to be a great mom, a loving wife and productive citizen. It lets me exist in my cookie cutter life and still be fulfilled as a human being. I hope that everyone that runs realizes that as much as running does not define you, it certainly is part of the definition.
That said, I have get going because I have cookies in the oven -- and their burning. :)