I'm running on the gym treadmill. I change the TV screen's channels until I come to Anderson Cooper, reporting the latest news about the Boston bombings. Three people are dead, including an eight-year-old boy named Martin Richard, and more than 140 injured.
The camera closes in on a picture of Martin who, about one year ago, was photographed holding up a sign he made that read, "No more hurting people."
I grab the treadmill rails, not sure I can go on. I slow the speed to a walk instead of a run, to give myself time to recover. I can't think of anything but this: If I'm having trouble going on right now, imagine how the people of Boston feel. How Martin Richard's family feels. Or how everyone else in the world feels, frankly, when faced with senseless, horrible acts of violence.
By now, I suspect most of us have found a way to cope with terrorism. For some, it's religion and prayer. For others, alcohol and anti-anxiety meds. Psychotherapy. Meditation. Crying. Avoiding large gatherings. Giving someone you love a longer hug than usual. Exercise.
I look around the gym. The treadmills are all occupied, and many of the screens are on CNN. I'm the only one who has slowed down. Am I being overly sensitive? Should I keep going on like my fellow treadmillers in the tried-and-true "Keep calm and carry on" style? After all, the moment we let terrorists disrupt our lives or fill us with terror, they win.
I continue walking on the treadmill, absorbed by the news reporting, struggling with emotion--an eight-year-old boy! My attention drifts back to the screen. CNN is showing an interview with Bill Iffrig, a Washington state resident and veteran Boston marathon runner. Iffrig was just 15 feet from the finish line when the first bomb went off. He fell to the ground, where he was widely photographed--his picture made the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated and is probably a shoo-in for next year's Pulitzer prize in photography.
Shaken but unharmed, Iffrig said he continued to the finish line and walked back to his hotel six blocks away. And get this: He's 78 years old. He's been in 45 Boston marathons.
In every tragedy, heroes like Iffrig emerge. He reminds me there are far more heroes in the world than terrorists. Just watching a few minutes of the news about Boston makes this fact obvious. So I turn up the treadmill speed and start running again. I know how to go on now.