Today I ran farther than I ever have in my collegiate career. I'm becoming an addict of longer distances. This run was a long, long stretch; plenty long for me anyway.
The route I chose took me into town. Somewhere between mile seven and eight I came upon a mother and her son biking from the library. As I was catching up to them, I noticed they stopped at an intersecting road off the main drag. There was no stop sign or approaching car in sight.
In the state I'm in, restless, craving adventure, wanting to get away, feeling very uninspired, I thought what a shame this was, those two, stopping for invisible traffic. I looked past them at all the other intersecting roads ahead and wondered if they would stop for every single one. Really, how ridiculous.
I began to catch up to them (they were, after all, stopping at all the little intersections). As I passed them, I nodded and smiled, doing my best not to rub in the obvious fact. The little boy, upon seeing me in his periphery, exploded into vigorous pedaling. We were side by side for a couple of seconds, but not long enough for me to think of anything to say. We came upon another little intersection and without hesitation the boy breezed through it.
Yet, only seconds later, he looked over his shoulder toward his mom and slowed down. Being passed by a runner is a blow to anyone's self-esteem, especially atop a bike (with only two wheels nonetheless), but his mother hadn't picked up her speed. She might've even stopped at the intersection.
He disappeared behind me.
I felt a bit sorry for him. Yet, in a lot of ways I could relate to him.
I have (with forced patience) been complying to the expectations set for me. Go to college. Be a good student. Get a degree. And like little intersections off the highway, I can see the expectations ahead: Get a good job. Find the right husband. Have kids...then forget about the job. Be a good Christian (what does that mean, by the way?).
Like that six or seven year-old kid, I'm young. I have a lot to learn. He might have questioned the necessity of stopping, but if one's mother thought one must stop at all the crossings, then that is exactly what one must do. For all these years I've been doing the same. Still, there is a point when you can accept control over your own life, you don't need to keep stopping.
Society's pressure is like a mother with good intentions. "Do this to be safe. Protect yourself. Always be cautious. You need this." I've been questioning the validity of that message. I question the American circle of life. Many others do as well.
We might question it, but we go along with it because we can't see any other workable plan. Even though there might not be anything wrong with this cycle, I just don't think it's a one-size-fits-all type of deal. Just because I'm an American, doesn't necessarily mean I want to meet all the American expectations.
Whatever it is that will finally set me over the edge, I hope I'll have enough conviction of mind to keep going with it, to keep breaking societies rules (when the time is right), and not slow down.