Monday Musings… Doesn’t This Feel Like a Marathon?

Most of us have probably never ran a marathon. I just did the Google search for you, and discovered that it’s 42.2 km or 26 miles. In my head, that’s equivalent to me driving to school and back, twice a day! That’s a lot of clicks on the odometer and time spent in my car, just sitting.

I don’t think any of us would randomly wake up one day and say, “You know what? Today I feel like running a marathon! I’m going to search for those running shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt, and I’m going to go the distance!”

We may have great ambition, but we’re unlikely to get very far before we start lamenting:

“My knees hurt!”

“Now, it’s my hips!”

“Man, I feel like I’m getting a blister on my baby toe.”

“Geez, I can barely breathe.”

“I think I’ll lie down in the ditch for a moment.”

“Who can I call to come pick me up?”

Marathons are super challenging. They’re for those elite athletes who have studied and trained over weeks and months and years, to condition their minds and bodies to endure the pain and relentless fatigue, all the way to the finish line.

But like it or not, we've been thrust into a marathon, the Covid-19-mile marathon, with no warning and little to no training. Just like running in a marathon, we can’t see the end from the beginning. And, that mile marker just keeps getting pushed farther ahead. Businesses and services keep waiting to hear when they will re-open. Elementary and high school students were supposed to be back in the classroom in early May, and now the schools will be closed until May 31st. It’s like there is this proverbial carrot being dangled in front of the donkey to keep it ever hopeful, to keep it moving. We're not the thoroughbred, Secretariat, after all; nope, we are the lowly, Eeyore!

And so, it’s easy to feel discouraged right now. It’s not uncommon to even fall into despair. This is a very difficult time where we realize that what we took for granted before, has now changed, or it may even be gone forever. Our blisters are oozing from the friction of trying to adjust to a new way of educating, shopping, managing money, and connecting with others.

Every single person on our planet is affected by this virus, in one form or another. We are all in this marathon together. And most have not prepared for it. So how can we go the distance, especially when there is no end in sight?

Do what the donkeys do!

As opposed to the race horse, the donkey is an ‘all-terrain’ animal. That means, while it may be slow, and often stubborn, its hooves can handle a difficult landscape. It can be depended upon to travel through sand, gravel, swamp land, or rugged mountains. It will persevere where other animals will cower. Covid is teaching us persistence.

The donkey is known as the beast of burden. It is much stronger than a horse of a similar size, as a standard donkey can carry up to 125 pounds (57 kg) on its back, and can pull twice it’s body weight on level ground! Covid is training us to carry more than we thought we could, whether that’s emotionally, physically, or financially, as we’re all weighed down with the burden of several unexpected responsibilities.

Donkeys were specifically created with large ears. It’s one of their most endearing physical features and they’re actually quite different from the ears of a horse. You see, the donkey originated in the desert, so its ears need to be large enough to keep it cool, but also to help it hear a distant donkey bray up to 97 km (or 60 miles) away! The donkey is therefore, attentive and protective. Covid is making us more aware of what and who is important in our lives, so that we intentionally engage with those whose cries we hear from a distance.

Lastly, donkeys are often placed in fields with other animals, because of the calming effect that they have. You’ll see them placed next to nervous horses, or with young foals who have been separated from their mothers. Donkeys are the peace-givers in times of stress. Covid is instructing us to refrain from feeding our minds with fear, but instead to be that person whom others can find comfort in, knowing we have found peace in the midst of the pandemic.

This is a seemingly slow race, with no finish line in sight. The problem is, we’ve been approaching this marathon the wrong way! We think we ought to be thoroughbreds, when in reality, we are donkeys! Yes, we are sluggish and we are stubborn for sure, but when this is over, we will be amazed at how we got through it, at how much we carried, at the relationships that were strengthened, and the peace that we found and extended to others.

Up, little donkey! We’ve got a ways to go! Hee-haw!

Have a listen to this newly released song by Matthew West that will help you to know you are not running this marathon alone.

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© 2020 Connect the Thoughts: Charlene Mahon