The morning started with a run with my beginners' running group, which I'm using as a confidence building commitment to get me back to running. I've run before. I've run with running groups before. But I haven't run recently. I loved it today. I adored the sunshine, and I felt fit and strong. I enjoyed seeing the turtles sunbathing in the pond, and watching the ducks spread their wings. Running in the sunshine is simply glorious.
I had a swift outfit change, and headed straight back to out to a preview screening of a film about running. Funny how things work out.
Now I'm not a regular cinema goer, nor am I a hard and fast runner, but I knew I'd enjoy watching this film. Despite the rare London sun showing its face today, off I went to the dark coolness of a cinema.
I'll be careful not to spoiler it, but the trailer gives a good hint of what's to come. It's an exploration of redemption, justice and what happens after people hit rock bottom. And larger than that, its about Judge Craig Mitchell and his ability to connect with people through his belief in their inherent value as a human being. He spoke after the preview, and I was able to shake his hand, and thank him, and he just had that ability to feel so 'present'. He looks people right in the eyes, and genuinely connects to them in that moment. He firmly and kindly shook my hand, and I was sad to have to let go. I can see how he was able to be the catalyst for change in some many people's lives.
The film made me want to run. It reminded me of those moments where you feel like you can do anything. Those glimmers when the uncomfortableness fades, and you feel strong and untouchable. Those carved out portions of time that are just about you and your body, with your thoughts.
The film made me want to run with a community. I'm a member of Parkrun already, and plan to run once my course finishes. I've run with Goodgym before, and I plan to return to them too (they blend volunteering with running). But it made me want to run with a new community too.
Running is free. Its empowering and powerful. But as Judge Craig Mitchell said, it's not just about the running. The runs provide a reason for a community to exist. You can run and talk, or not talk at all. You suddenly have something in common, where at first glance you had none. There is an instant "running community" to join, and of course, while they're very supportive, and big cheerleaders, they don't really care how far you run, or how fast you run it. They simply care that you turn up.
There's so much in that, isn't there. We all want to belong, and there aren't many sports activities where you can join in at any level. You're all just runners, running against yourself. Running provides a great middle ground between being solo, and belonging to something bigger than yourself.
What the film also did, was make me want to continue to have volunteering in my life. The Judge talked about how by giving something of ourselves, it returns far more than you ever gave, and it just reminded me how much better the world would be, if we all just did this more. If we all spent a little less time worrying about our own thoughts, and finding little ways to engage with people who have been less fortunate, or have challenges they have yet to overcome. Money matters of course, and awareness campaigns are important too, but what we really need more of, is people engaging with people. Forming connections. The tagline of the movie is "Finding dignity one step at a time", and the Judge is right, we need people to have an opportunity to feel success, to develop perseverance, and to feel like they have value.
This film is being shown in many cinemas, but for one night only. MAY 9th. You can, and should, buy tickets here. You will cry. You will want to run.