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THE OLYMPIC TRACK
May 12, 2004
 
It was late in the afternoon, and warm. We had driven a fair distance that day, and I was tired. The sun slanted across the fields as we drove, painting the undersides of leaves with gold. We would visit Olympia. It would be Q's second visit, at least, and my first.

This was the place where the games were held. Not too many stones remain on stone here: most of them have tumbled to the ground. This is earthquake country. But some complete columns remain, and a circular amphitheater, where the games were begun each year. And the remains of several small temples.

Of all the structures in the ancient Olympic complex, the track is least changed by the passing centuries. A track is just a track: all it has to be is a level expanse of dirt. It can't fall down in an earthquake, although it could develop holes, I suppose. This one hasn't, though. It is level, ready for the runners who will never return.

But new ones come, from time to time. Q's young son on another visit, eager to move after several cramped hours the car: he ran the track at Olympia, while his parents and sister watched. Ran what the ancient athletes ran. I think many young visitors must have done that over the millennia, stepped over the low stones onto the dirt track to pit themselves against ancient competitors.

We have a photograph of Ross on another run: this one's in Minneapolis, where he's running a marathon. He is an adult now. He is perfectly formed, his body muscled and strong, and he is working hard. He loves sport of many kinds: cycling, running, hiking, whitewater rafting, para-sailing. He goes skydiving -- once.

He was returning home from camping with a friend when he was injured -- broadsided by a drunken driver, breaking his neck and rendering him quadriplegic. That strong body, motionless. Unable to move so much as a finger. He lived for eighteen days.

We stayed at Olympia until it was almost dark, until we were the only people left there, walking among the stones, imagining the games, the young athletes. What the liturgies must have been like. Q remembering the boy running the dirt track. Then we got back into the car and drove away.

Seize the day. Run the Olympic track now, while you're here. You don't know if you will ever return. It is good to do things now, while you are still able. You do not know what is ahead for you, how long your life will be. Nobody knows. But however long it is, let it be as complete as you can make it: fill it with those good things within your power.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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