Carson McCullers wrote Southern Gothic.
She wrote about lonely people. About passion arising in the hearts of those who are not destined for greatness, at least not obviously so.
I sit amidst people who are seeking notice. That is to say, I trained at a university that prides itself on greatness. I work with doctors, who wish for great things in themselves and want to leave a legacy. I run in a town where people are really fast runners and athletes extraordinaire. I play piano among champions. I cook among chefs. I parent among parents of brilliant children who go on to do good in the world.
As a woman, nary a day goes by where a patient does not comment on my looks. Now I would like to say I am sure my male colleagues get the same treatment, but I can pretty assuredly say they are not called by their first name and called cute on a daily basis. Nor has their weight gain, hair loss or choice in clothes likely been commented upon regularly.
Science shows, by the way, that women doctors are generally better for your health. No matter what they look like.
It has been awhile since I commented on running. This is, after all, a blog about running, predominantly. That too has been a source of dis-ease lately. I used to be fast, now I am not. I used to be fast, now I am not. I used to be fast, now I am not.
Still, a few things have conspired against speed lately. For instance, I have been on medicines that suppress my immune system, cause weight gain and generally make me feel terrible. Also, I have a son in jail, soon to go to prison which makes me feel terrible. Also, I work a lot. And though this seemed fine at age 30 and even 40, now it just wears me out.
But the positives still abound. I am currently reading The Book of Joy, which chronicles conversations between the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu. It is hard to synopsize, but if I had to I would say: Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
Another positive is I ran 10 miles on the beach this weekend with my dog. Now, as a marathoner this seems trivial, but I have been injured and sick lately, so it is kind of big deal. My dog was ecstatic, my body was OK and my soul rejoiced.
Positively good includes my daughters who approach life wth interest and humor. Positively good includes the science march in my community that drew a couple of thousand people. I live in a very small town. We care, and we march.
In The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a young girl loved Beethoven. A black doctor never wavered in his care for the suffering in his southern town. A diner owner, recently widowed, paid attention to everyone he came across. A deaf mute was the person everyone turned to for solace. His ending-maybe not so good, but I will not ruin the ending for those who have not yet had the pleasure of reading her book.
On my 10 mile run, I meditated on the waves crashing at my side. I watched my dog trot by me and chase after gulls. I marveled at the way the beach fog clung to the sand, with a misty, eerie presence. I looked for whales but none were seen. I imagined surfing, oh man it has been too long. I nursed a sore leg and I felt my strong lungs.
I kept thinking about my son, who is lost. If you are a parent, you know how devastating that is. If you are not, just imagine the worst thing you can possibly picture and magnify it by infinity.
The heart never ceases to look for joy, for solace, for love. Today is May Day and my husband of 25 years left me a basket full of fresh picked flowers. In them I bask. In him I heal.
I might be old, slow and a woman, but so help me God, I am not done yet. And my heart is not even a little lonely.