"It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death ... We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity." Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on the death of Terry Fox
Paul's Cross Country season came to a close last night as he celebrated with his team at the annual Marbles dinner. Paul realised it was the 10th anniversary of this tradition and reminisced with me on how the dinner got started. One of his first runners, when the team was only a handful, suggested a celebration-of-the-season dinner but it took a couple more years for it to get off the ground. As the team grew and a culture took form, the dinner became a celebration of the year past as well as a presentation of trophies hard-fought for and well-earned.
Every year at this dinner, Paul presents a speech to his team. He wraps up the year's achievements and fondly retells the in-jokes. But in his speech he also hopes to inspire the boys, not only as runners but as maturing young men.
Paul read his speech to me last night and I begged and pleaded with him to let me share some of it (in-jokes aside). I think it's important because it demonstrates what running and Cross Country is all about to Paul. And it also says a lot about what it means to be Canadian as it truly highlights a thing I call Canadian courage. We are born with fire and ice in our blood. It takes a lot to knock us down. And even then, our inclination is to get right back up, no matter what adversity it is we face. I feel that my friends and family in B.C. who are fighting for the right to good public education against the Liberal government, might need to be reminded of that Canadian spirit which urges them to keep going, to keep pressing on despite adversity.
In sharing this, Paul has asked me to acknowledge and thank two of his friends in Canada, Ray and Doug. They both have taken the time to get to know and understand him as well as his passion for running and young people. They both have loved him for it. And thank you Ray and Anne, for taking us to Mile 0 on that cold December day. For the memories and the walks and the seals and the fish and chips.