Monday, November 7, 2011


I have felt particularly diminished in recent weeks. If I were a chord, I'd be a diminished 7th, with a certain ache and sadness. Maybe kind of Gershwinesque, which is appropriate as I sit here in New York City. Obviously, one can't help but feel small in NY. Though quaint compared to some of the cities we visited in China, this city is still big by my standards. Big in every way.

It is especially big when you are running all over it, from borough to borough then back to the borough you were in before, then to a different borough and finally landing in Central Park which is so endless at that point in a marathon that you feel like those kids who got shrunk accidentally by their Dad in that one movie, where a foot becomes a mile and a mile becomes something akin to what Don Giovanni experienced at the end of the opera we attended tonight. Which, to be exact, is the mouth of hell. That guy was unapologetic to the end, and I don't believe he ever felt small.

I feel small, not really just because NY is so big and the crush of humanity so absolute. I actually enjoy the crowds and the constant chatter and the odd shops and the staggeringly normal diversity that defines this city perhaps more than any other.

I had a heartbreaking, disappointing, physically impossible marathon. Cruised well for 20 miles, then my legs cramped without mercy and there was nothing that could've let me run faster than a tortoise on Ativan for the rest of the race. Just like that, over. Meticulous training, best shape of my life, all for the worst marathon. The marathon is big. I am small. Best laid plans, blah blah blah.

I turned away from a glamorous job offer this week as well. My practical Mom side won the battle. Glamorous job offers are big. I am small.

In the midst of my pity party (now would be the time to put that violin back in your pocket), I keep finding some kernels of beauty and goodness. That opera, for instance. The gaggle of lovely teenagers on the 2 Train to Brooklyn at midnight. The golden friends with whom I've shared food and drink in the last several days. The Statue of Liberty at 5:45 am, torch lit, viewed from the ferry. The gorgeous Austrian men I drafted for the first 12 miles of the marathon, who (upon noticing the young woman in front of us with a prosthetic leg running in a particularly congested area) without a word to each other joined hands and formed a shield around the young Vet of one of our recent and ongoing wars until we came to a less hectic part of the marathon route. Precious time alone with my husband.

I believe true enlightenment requires a complete letting go of the self. Smallness is just the starting point on the path to nothingness. And the nothingness we dare not seek may hold everything precious in the Universe.

Still, glamour is nice. And I deserved a 3:20 marathon. Take that, stupid Universe.


  1. Thanks for sharing your New York City marathon experience, disappointment and all. It must have been hard to make it through to the end, running on with the pain as the clock went through 3:20. But trust me, there are a few of us who are impressed at the accomplishment, short as it was from your goal. I guess it won't be the magnum opus of your running, but then doesn't every composer need a piece in the "key" of diminished 7th in his or her oeuvre?

    So, congratulations on the run and the insightful post. And a note to the universe: you might want to sit up and pay attention!

  2. In my world you still totally rock! You did it, you finished and you have a tale to tell... What could be better? I know... You have some thoughts on that, but be proud, we are!