I was prepared to enjoy myself, to enjoy watching the happy couple be the happy couple. I knew I would dance. I knew I would drink. I knew I would laugh. But I did not know how overwhelmingly fortunate I would feel just being there. Gary and Linda amassed the warmest, friendliest, most welcoming group of people I have ever known to gather in one room. And I feel bloody lucky to have been included in such lofty company.
Of the 120+ people there, I knew seven. Of the six at my table, I knew none. Yet, in every conversation, I was included. At every table, given a chair. For every song, a dance partner. We danced and we drank and we laughed like we’d been friends forever. And I experienced a slight shift in my make-up, a change that will impact the rest of my life.
I should mention that the wedding list was a who’s who of the ultra-marathon, extreme long-distance running world. The majority of guests run 100-mile races. They travel the world to run the toughest courses. They run 50 kilometers for fun. The physical aspect is hard, no doubt, but the mental challenge is what they seem to thrive on. They go through a lifetime of emotions in these races: elation, depression, fear, hope, bliss. And they truly understand the simplest of things: every step forward is success.
They are not just friends—though this would be plenty—they are a community spread across the globe. I watched and felt the love, respect and support swirl around that room as people reunited, as they recalled at which race they met, at which mile their paths crossed, on which mountain they bonded. Yes, they have running in common, but it is so much more than that. And it is more, too, than just the history of having known each other. They ooze life. They are joie de vivre. They are unabashed, open-armed, life-loving lunatics. They embrace life, and the people in it, like the gift it and they are.
As we drove back from the wedding, the weather changed right before our eyes. Squamish was warm and sunny, the blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds, but as we drove, we watched the clouds roll in, hugging the mountains, almost consuming them, until all we saw was cement-grey mist. And the rain came. This happened in minutes. Life is like that. Only so many sunny days. Only so much time.
I want to make the most of it.
I will likely not run 100-mile races, but the slight change in my make-up that I experienced is this: a deeper, more profound appreciation that every step forward is indeed a success, and that I must celebrate accordingly. This weekend, this wedding, this group of people somehow made it seem ridiculous to go through life any other way.
I sometimes end these blogs with a break-up letter. I have Dear John'ed my fears, my flaws and my inability to ask for help. Today is different.
Dear Gary and Linda,
Thank you for inviting me first into your lives, and then to your wedding. You are both game changers, and you are both the change that I wish to see in the world. I want to go steady with your special brand of loving life. : )
Go forth and produce little lawn-mowing machines of happiness, hope, strength and courage.
I love you both.