Perhaps you’ve never stopped to think about the times in life when you’ve fallen in love. There are many kinds of love. There is loving another person, of course. You can also love a hobby, a sport, or a passion of some kind. Your pets. Your family. Love is universal.
So it’s likely that everyone reading this has been in love with something or another during their lifetime.
I can say that I fell in love with running at a fairly early age. My father nudged me into cross country as a freshman in high school, but even before that, I loved the sensation of running more than any other aspect of sports. Even as a ten-year-old baseball player I relished running from home plate around the light pole in center field and back. Same goes for running the bases. Run, run, run. I was a Forrest Gump kind of kid, I’ll admit. Not always the brightest bulb in the socket, in some ways. On many fronts I was critically naive.
But boy, I liked to run. That much I knew how to do. It wasn’t always that way. As a five-year-old child, I had a friend named Jimmy Morris who lived up the hill from our house in Seneca Falls, New York. One day we were playing and decided to run over to my house. He tore off ahead of me down the hill and I chased after him. Then he stopped and asked, “What are you doing?”
I was running with my arms at my side. I’m not sure why, other than I was shy or something like that. He told me, “Look, run like this!” while pumping his arms. So I followed his example.
A year after that we’d moved to Pennsylvania and our house had a side yard that had once been a tennis court. Somewhere I found a watch that I could use and stood out there on the lawn waiting for the second hand to hit the 12. Then I took off running the perimeter of that lawn. I did it again and again, trying to get faster each time.
Chasing the girls
In grade school I loved running around the playground. We played tag sometimes, and I remember a sweet girl with brown hair and a cowlick on her forehead named Cindy DeMora. She was as fast as me. That stunned me because I’d been taught that boys were faster than girls. I remember chasing all those girls. Betsy Hastings. Kimberly Tracy. Lisa Helsel. The boys in our class…all kept lists of the Top Ten girls we liked. Sometimes I felt like I was in love with some of them.
By junior high our participation in sports was all about trying to impress the girls in our class. In seventh grade we even gave $.99 rings to girls if they were up for “going steady” with us.
Then came high school, and my running became a keen part of personal identity. Having made the Varsity as a freshman, I hoped that girls would find me more impressive somehow. But at six foot tall and 125 lbs, those hopes were a bit vainglorious. Yet I do recall a certain cheerleader snatching me up during a dance in the cafeteria. I went home that night dizzy and dazed from that sudden burst of attention and affection.
It felt like I was in love.
Love is serious business
Then came college and dating became a semi-serious business. I didn’t realize even at that age that some women viewed the dating process as a marriage qualifier. We were too busy running dozens of miles and trying to look decently macho and presentable in 70s fashion at the bars. The other factor is that running was just gaining in popularity at the time. The first women runners joined the squad in my freshman year in college. Their numbers increased as the years progressed. But our worlds still seemed separate.
I finally, truly fell in love heading into senior year in college. I was in deeply in love with running at the same time. I lived it, breathed it, and devoted hour upon hour to running. I enjoyed some success at last on both fronts. Love and love.
Then that relationship broke off after college because she was playing for keeps and I wasn’t ready for that.
So I went back to running in a serious way. Had more success. Then I fell in love again. Married. Had two wonderful children. Lived twenty-eight years together. Then lost her to cancer.
But I kept on running. It kept me sane through it all. I still loved running.
Now I’m remarried. Found genuine love again. We run together. Ride together. Swim together. For those who’ve loved and lost, I say to you: Don’t give up. If you’ve ever been in love before, with anything or anyone, don’t give up.
There is love in the world if you keep on looking for it. It may be pursuing what you love, getting out in the mountains or walking by a river to watch it flow. Love is there.
The way I look at it, I’ve helped propel the world in its rotation with my own little feet. Like gerbils on a wheel, we run and run while the world squeaks away around us. What goes around, comes around.
Now go out there and love it up, with all you’ve got.