Some of you might not know this, but my uncle died when I was 2. My mom's little brother. He was young and died very unexpectedly, riding his motorcycle.
Story has it that at his funeral DOZENS of bikers showed up. They didn't know my Uncle Larry. It's just what bikers do when one of their own suffers. The day of the funeral, they rode in on Harleys by the mile and was it ever a sight to see! I'm told that my grandfather personally shook EACH rider's hand at the gravesite and thanked them profusely for coming. My mom says that Grandpa was overwhelmed and touched that they cared enough about HIS SON to ride for him, one last time. "Larry would have LOVED it," he said.
The biker community banded together to stand behind the family of 'one of their own.'
I saw this same concept repeat itself when my friend, Joe Boyle (an AVID runner) was told that because his cancer had spread and treatment would be fierce, he couldn't run anymore. Joe had always wanted to run a marathon -another thing, it seemed, robbed from him due to this ugly disease. But Joe decided that, although he hadn't properly trained, and it was the DEAD of winter, he was going to run that damn marathon anyway. Before his treatment began, and while he still felt good enough to do it, he was going to do it. He and a few friends planned the course out and set a date.
And just like at my uncle's funeral, the runners showed up. Dozens of them. And again, not all of them knew Joe. I would argue that MOST of them didn't. It didn't matter.
One of their own was suffering. And showing up is just what you do.
Joe ran the race with dozens of runners, through the ice and snow and freezing temps - and he ran it completely buoyed by the love of the running community.
I was thinking about these things today as I pondered the importance of community. We have all seen it. Benefits, dinners, rides, auctions... events to support a person, a school, a fire station, a political candidate.
The power of community.
As a teacher, I have worked in places where community was undervalued. I now work in a place where community is #1. And I have to tell you - having a supportive circle is bar none, the most powerful inspiration someone can have. I hope you all surround yourselves with a community of people who have your back. I know I have that.
I appreciate the independence that people brag about. ("I don't need anybody. It's me/us against the world. I got here alone.") But folks, communities carry us. If you're meandering through the world, bragging about how alone you are... I think you're missing out.
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