On this Independence Day, and most holidays that involve honoring war veterans, whether it’s this day, Veterans Day, or Memorial Day, I honor it with a run, inspired by war veterans who came before me. I start my run, contemplating the pain that was suffered by the countless veterans who sacrificed their own freedoms and endured great suffering for the benefit of others. I run by the graves of veterans. I live just a block from a cemetery. When I’m running through the cemetery, I get some scowls. People don’t get why I choose to run through a cemetery, and that’s okay. By the way, I’m not running over any graves, I stay on the paved roads that are near them. There are hundreds of graves with flags atop them, signifying that they are the graves of military veterans. As I run, I’m overwhelmed with emotion with thoughts of pain and sacrifice that men and women endured for the benefit of others. My first impression of living by a cemetery was that it was somber and eerie and not what I really wanted to have so close to my home. Now, I fully appreciate it, having conditioned myself to be inspired by it being there.
After this last run, I noticed something. I shaved thirty seconds off a four and a half mile run and it seemed easier than when I did it before, having this mind set of considering others’ pain and contribution. It seemed effortless to push myself more when I had thoughts of what others have endured. The combination of endorphins, emotions of thoughts of fallen heroes, makes for powerful motivation. This resonates with me beyond my run and inspire me to contribute in the wake of others who gave their all for the benefit of those they care about. I’m motivated to do something truly significant and impact other people’s lives.
I hope that I can inspire someone to borrow from my tradition and find a way to be more physically fit in order to be more effective in whatever endeavor. With improved physical fitness, there’s improvement in every marker of health with better cognitive function, focus, mood, you name it. If it’s a function within your body and brain, it’s better for having exercised. We are whole beings and every part affects the whole. You can not escape this reality, so why not embrace it and benefit from having the knowledge. Get out there and get active! If not for you, do it for those you care for. You will enable yourself to show up better for them. Yes, it takes a little time, and it’s worth it. So is the effort as every disciplined action has a multiple reward, for you and for others.