People always say to live out loud and I’ve always liked that. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is from the French writer Emile Zola. It reads:
“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
I have it, along with probably hundreds of other quotes, taped to my walls of my childhood bedroom. That quote especially though, was strategically placed by the door and on quiet mornings when I felt I could use a little extra confidence, I’d tap the paper I had scribbled those words on, flip my light, and head out the door – determined to live out loud.
I was at a road race with my friend this past Sunday (October 30, so naturally it was themed for Halloween). We had both competed in the 5K and after cooling down, watching the award ceremony, and eating fruit and bagels, we decided to watch the end of the 10K.
We sat down by the finish line, still debriefing our own times and paces and generally just catching each other up on our lives. There were sporadic chunks of people around us, though most of the costumed 5K runners had departed by this point.
To our left was what I imagine to be a young family. There was a young woman with what I assumed to be her toddler son.
My friend and I continued to chat while maintaining continuous eye contact with the race, cheering and laughing at some of the ridiculous costumes that were crossing the finish line.
The young mom had moved from our space at the sidewalk and was now standing against the rope with her phone out, ready to snap a photo or video of her finishing counterpart. At the same time, my friend and I watched as her toddler son raced out onto the track.
She yelled for him to wait, but somebody else was quicker.
You see, this little boy had seen who I assume to be his father round the last turn of the race and without a second thought, ducked under the rope and ran straight into his arms.
The racing man, with only 50 meters left, scooped up his child – who was beaming with delight – and carried him in his arms across the finish line.
It was one of the most genuine and loving things I have ever witnessed.
This little boy was so oblivious to the fact that this was a structured race. All that he cared about was getting to his person. After all, it had been a 10K’s worth of time and he couldn’t fathom where his dad had gone. So imagine his delight when he sees his father rounding the corner…
And so he ran out to greet him.
And if that Dad was tired it didn’t show for a single second as he – without missing a beat or a step – scooped up his child and raced across the finish line.
Naturally, my friend and I sitting inches from where this occurred were both besides ourselves with the pure innocence of it all. We cheered and clapped and smiled at the mother.
We never talked to the family or exchanged names or even saw them again. Pretty soon after that, my friend and I took our respective public transportation back to our respective boroughs. But I thought a lot about that little boy on my subway ride home.
He didn’t care what was going on around him. He saw somebody that he loved. He saw somebody that he loved so much, he couldn’t contain his excitement for another second. He had so much love in his heart that he had to act in that very moment or he would have burst.
I used to think there was nothing braver than the notion of wildly living out loud.
Now, though, I’m starting to wonder if the real test of courage is the way we love.
To the little boy at the Roosevelt Island Haunted 5K and 10K Race, thank you for reminding me what it means to unapologetically love out loud.
You’re gonna go far, kid.