I knew I made the right choice exactly 74 seconds into my run.
Prior to Saturday’s annual Powell County Kiwanis Club 5K at Natural Bridge, I had debated which album to play during the race, wondering if I should listen to the old standby Born to Run, which would help me focus more on lyrics and music and less on pavement and burning lungs.
Just 74 seconds into the race (I had fast-forwarded through some introductory ambient sounds), running as the morning sun slipped through the trees, the lyrics kicked in and I smiled.
“Breathe, breathe in the air.
Don’t be afraid to care.
Leave, don’t leave me.
Look around and choose your own ground.
Long you live and high you fly.
Smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry.
All you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be.”
There, in the Natural Bridge/Red River Gorge area he likely considered a second home, I knew my late friend Norman Watson would approve of the choice I had made: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
I probably looked like a bigger idiot than usual because I kept running and smiling and looking around to take in the beauty of Natural Bridge State Park. I couldn’t help it. Here were the trees Norman loved to camp under, the water he hiked by, the air, the grass, the everything, all in the area he loved and appreciated perhaps as much, if not more, than anyone else who has ever stepped foot in Powell County.
Norman died last summer from cancer, and his loss continues to be felt today by his friends and family. More importantly, though, his life continues to be felt by those same people, as we look at his outlook on life (and in the end, his outlook on his death) as almost a guidebook on how to live: Appreciate each day. Love others. Give of yourself. Live. Laugh. Love.
Hallelujah. Amen. Let it be. So be it.
That was Norman.
To honor his memory, I used Saturday’s run as a fundraiser for the Powell County Relay for Life, asking for donations in honor of Norman. My friends gave more than $400 and I’m looking forward to turning this into the Relay officials and explaining the gift and what it means to us.
I’m hoping that maybe they’ll read this, too, and see what Norman meant to us.
To all who helped with today, I thank you. To all the Kiwanis Club members, the race is a perfect way for people to come together and revel in the natural beauty Powell County has to offer. To all the people who donated (and I’ll be posting later to list your names), simple thank yous aren’t enough to express my appreciation for your generosity.
To Norman’s family, know that his spirit lives on. When I said goodbye to him, we quoted Lost, saying “I’ll see you in another life, brutha.” Today, I felt him in this life.
As I crossed the finish line, these words came through my headphones:
“Us, and them
And after all, we were only ordinary men.”
I think Norman might have been singing in my ear.