I live with marathon runners. As a result, I get to witness the grueling task of training for and successfully finishing a race. I also know, without a doubt, that a marathon is something that I will NEVER complete. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would want to run for 26.2 miles, especially when they have to spend months in advance of the race, training for it by going on long runs up to 20+ miles. That’s like running a marathon multiple times before you actually run the real deal. Yet, every year, thousands of people run these races. My husband and daughter are two of those people.
During this last marathon, as I waited at the finish line, I actually began to get a little angry at some of the runners. Many of them were limping more than they were running, and some were even crying. Yes, literal tears! These were grown folks, not children, dragging themselves towards a finish line, knowing that they probably wouldn’t be able to even walk the next day.
“Why in the world are they doing this?” I asked myself. “Why are they torturing themselves like this? Surely running a marathon is not that important.”
When my husband and daughter crossed the finish line, I asked them the same question regarding the “criers.” They both stared at me as if I had suddenly turned green.
“They’re doing it for the kids, Mom,” my daughter said. “We’re all doing it for the kids. Yeah, it’s hard. I even cried a little toward the end, but this is for the kids at Saint Jude’s.”
“Didn’t you see the wrist bands?” my husband asked. “Some people are running for specific kids.”
“We ran for Zoey,” my daughter added. “At first we were just running because we wanted to run the marathon, but then we thought about Zoey and ran it for her.”
Not only did I feel remorseful regarding my attitude towards the runners, but I also had a lightbulb moment. I thought about all those years I spent writing and pursuing traditional publishing. I thought about all the sacrifices I made, all the tears I shed. I thought about my figurative limping toward the finish line. I also thought about how, when I first started on this race, I did it because I wanted to be a published author. Yet, once I really got deeper into my journey, I began doing it for the kids. Now, more than ever, I do it for the kids. If it were simply up to me and the pursuit of a dream, I would walk away. I would no longer put myself through this “marathon” training of trying to publish a book.
But I can’t quit. I must finish the race because I know that there are stories in me that I need to share with kids—kids who, metaphorically, like the kids at Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital, need hope and healing.
What about you? Why are YOU doing this? Why are you continuing to run the race of children's book publishing?