It’s hard to believe that it has been 40 years since Terry Fox ran 5,373 kilometers across Canada in his Marathon of Hope.
This year’s run was held virtually, where everyone was encouraged to take part wherever you were and in whatever capacity you were able.
“One day, your way.”
For me, I ran 12km yesterday and another 3km today. I like to run, but there is no way that I will ever complete a half-marathon, let alone a full marathon, in my life. Terry ran a marathon. Every. Single. Day. And not always in beautiful fall 26C weather. A lot of the early clips are from snowy, cold Atlantic Canada. In so many ways, it is beyond anything that most of us can fathom.
Despite everything, he persevered until the very end, and then only wished that Canadians would carry on: “Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.” And in schools and communities across the world, it has.
There are so many lessons that Terry and his legacy continue to teach us.
One that sticks with me was his approach to running each day. You would think that he would focus on the marathon distance of the day. That it would be tempting to count the kilometers off. My app does that. One kilometer. Two. Three.
But Terry didn’t do that. He didn’t think about running the whole 42kms.
He thought about getting to the top of the hill.
Then the curve in the road.
Then the next signpost.
…as each of these small goals were achieved, the kilometers added up, the marathon distance completed. Until 4am the next morning when he would begin again.
I’m sure that Terry never lost sight of his overall goal, to cross Canada and return home to British Columbia, but each grueling day passed by accomplishing many small goals along the way.
It’s a good way to look at a lot of things in life.
As we are now at the six month mark of pandemic living, much of it has been passed by making it through one day at a time. There’s not much point in looking too far down the road, because we can’t see it clearly and conditions are constantly changing anyway.
The school year is similar.
We are trying to prepare for so many scenarios, and depending on what happens in each of our communities in terms of COVID spread, any number of things could happen.
So although year plans are made, we are mostly looking at the road right in front of us.
When I run, it’s literally navigating the washboard gravel roads and the deep hoof prints from horses on the prairie trail, trying not to sprain an ankle. At school, it’s gauging how to pace a quint-semester and to keep consistent and meaningful contact with students who aren’t in the classroom.
But it’s also taking time to look around: the deep, warm fall colors changing almost before my eyes, and the herd of deer sprinting across the road, so effortlessly leaping the fences before they disappear into the forest. It’s also taking time in the classroom: despite feeling pressure, to not rush, letting students delve into their books, to flush out ideas, and to let conversations continue when students are digging deeper into a topic.
I hope that forty years from now, Canadians still remember Terry Fox. Still walk or run as they are able. Still carry Terry’s optimism and hope for a cure for cancer. Maybe we will even be using this day to celebrate cancer's cure.
And to really embrace this idea: one day, your way.
Every day. For as long as we are given.
Just like Terry.
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