Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sean Astin: Read This Essay & Understand My Heart

Posted by Sean Astin on his Facebook page.

I'm heading up to Canada today to participate in the Vancouver Sun Run. Tiffany Crawford a reporter from the Vancouver Sun tells me that over 50,000 people will show up. This'll be the largest group of people I have ever run with by nearly double.

It is a strange and surreal time to be alive. Since the second world war, television has brought people close together in times of joy and tragedy. As a boy I remember moments like the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan and the death of Elvis... I remember the 1984 Olympics, the television show Roots, the birth of MTV. These shared experiences made me feel totally connected to the world. Each Community National Television "event" left me feeling closer to everyone, entitled to stand taller as an informed citizen and thoughtful human being. As an actor, "emotions" are tools of my trade. I come from a family of talkers and feelers. We SHARE. We don't seem to know any other way to resolve conflict until everyone has taken a heartfelt journey through the range of emotions that we all are feeling, arriving on the other side of a family gathering, relieved, exhausted, satisfied. When I was a kid, we didn't merely listen to stories, we joined them. For us, being an audience member carried immense responsibility. It is a selfish way to be, but somehow any other way of being feels lazy or ungrateful.

Now, what insanity befalls people like me when we have instant shared access to the world. Now, every breath from every person in the world is shared. National & International events are not meant to be experienced and internalized as a moment to be related to one another as we walk through life. Now, we can affect everything! Walking on the moon isn't a performance to be marveled at, it's an opportunity to tweet with the astronauts.


I have gravitated to running as an identity. For years I ran in private, so to speak. I was proud to brag about my accomplishments, but for most of my life, running was introspective. As fame and raging bouts of weight gain/loss gripped my life, I realized that grabbing the social media rod with both hands and linking my time, attention, energy... My Life to running would be like Cortez burning his ships behind him, Victory or Death the only possible outcomes. Reputations are hard to build and easy to lose. For better or worse, I care what people think about me. I never want to be thought of as fake or as a quitter. And so making the heaping broad claim that I'm a Runner, is a gauntlet I drop for myself, personally and publicly.

But, that's not enough...

Because running is felt first and foremost in my heart, I feel justified in connecting my passion and my pain to your heart.

To be famous means that for whatever that the last breath of life is a subject of interest to others...earnestly, casually, deeply...fleetingly. Therefore, as a so called "celebrity" (a word I'm fast hoping will fall out of favor), respecting others privacy is both sacred & qualified.

#run3rd is an invitation to throw the doors of our pain and joy wide open. It is to say, for whatever reason, I am, We are ready to ask for your inclusion in a deep and sensitive part of my life, be it joy or care of any sort.

But, #run3rd is also a public cry. It is a herald of love and support for its object.

The Improvised Explosive Devices, placed with such hatred and malevolence at the Finish Line of the 2013 Boston Marathon demand global condemnation.

I have said for years that human progress requires creative symbolic action. Like the Marches of Ghandi & Dr. King, people raise ourselves highest when we link our ideals and our humanity to action. Candlelight Vigils and Rock Concerts lift, lift, lift us up.

Organized running events, be them tiny impromptu affairs or those that boast the inclusion of tens of thousands of registered participants, have always been, in my estimation, a sacred activity. Building on the sense of mission and purpose of our greatest social uprisings, running events are a regular, a naturally recurring occupancy. Where major political marches are a shock to the body politic, 5k's 10k's 1/2's & Full Marathons, are just plain good social gathering hygiene.

The Boston Marathon is special. It is truly Symbolic. For runners the world over, this race represents the pinnacle of human achievement.

My friend Jeff Galloway is one of the pioneers of bringing the very possibility of running 26.2 miles to the masses. He helped popularize the concept that even the very modest runner could do it.

Boston is different.

Event at the height of my running prowess at Crossroads, my High School in Santa Monica, I couldn't have qualified for Boston. That Historic Race is legendary. Known even only by it's City Name, "So, you gonna run Boston?" a simultaneous feeling of awe, unworthiness & possibility are invoked.

What a perfect symbol. What a clever attempt to wreck something deep and untouchable inside the human spirit. And yet, what a classic underestimation of the object of such desperation. To pick a Holy Target because of what it represents and fail so utterly to grasp its power, is sad and pitiful and strangely reassuring.

Running means so very much to me.

This attack like all human carnage, sickens, angers & saddens me.

To attack runners, organizers, volunteers and the most special people of all...those who come out and cheer for and support runners, is an assault on my wife and children, friends, neighbors and strangers alike, must know that now, in the wake of meanness and criminality, your love and bravery, your clapping, whistling & shouting affection means more now than ever!!!

So, I took a weird step and Tweeted to my 81,000 Followers the photos of suspects released by the FBI. As I watched yet another mind numbing news cycle of hysteria, sorrow and officials grappling with a dangerous world. It was really the only tangible thing I could think of.

So, what is left to be done? For me, the answer is simple, I have only to run.

My mind is on the people who are still in the hospital after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the innocent lives that were taken, the families of all the victims, the first responders, the police, the brave people who rushed to help in the aftermath of the explosion, the traumatized spectators, the people of Boston, the American people & Runners.

I got off work early yesterday. Brimming with excitement that there is an event I can join this weekend, I set out to find an appropriate way to Honor Bostonians.

I found a solid grey "Away Game" Boston Red Sox Jersey. Then, using Yelp I found Uptown Embroidery here in Salt Lake City. Heather and her son Mark (I think Mark) helped me adorn the Jersey with meaningful symbols.

First, courtesy of @seanastin Twitter Follower @APOADN74 who, "swiped the ribbon from the Bruins & added the #run3rd tag"... Thank You Sir for doing so.

Second, Heather mocked up My Wife Christine's named and those of our daughters from my first #run3rd shirt.

Finally, despite the hour, the family was kind enough to rebuild my favorite version of the #Run3rd emblem and stitched it on the back.

This process was very soothing and therapeutic for me. Like drawings rendered by my children at a Grandparents funeral, creativity is healing expression.

I'm grateful for this FB group (1st I've ever joined). There is no way I could have crammed these feelings into 140 characters.

#run3rd for everyone affected by the attack on the 2013 Boston Marathon.

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