My daughter received this email from a friend of Kate's. Kate, a Yale graduate, has been hard at work, getting her to the level to compete for the Olympics. She runs for @teamoiselle, a wonderful running apparel company, in Seattle, trying to make it. What matters is she did something that made a difference to her, and in so doing, gave us all inspiration and hope during such a dark week.
The shooting in Orlando. The bombings in Baghdad and Istanbul. The murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The shooting in Dallas.
Can I be honest with you and say that it is all too much for me to process?
We are drowning in violence, oppression, and fear. I do not know what to say to you about all of this pain. I do not know what to do or how to help in a meaningful, tangible way. I cannot remain silent any longer, with my head buried in the sand of privilege, but I also do not want to just add to the noise and confusion.
So today, with all of the pain that is weighing heavily on my heart (and no doubt on yours as well), I want to take a minute and talk about hope, and about resilience and strength.
Because these things - hope, resilience, and strength - can come to us from unlikely places.
In the midst of our uncertainty and anger, when we are truly asking ourselves and each other what we can do and if anything will ever change, it is okay, maybe even necessary, to source hope from wherever we can.
Which is why, every single day for the past five days, I have looked over and over again at the photo above.
That's my dear friend Kate Grace, who blazed across the 800m finish line at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday evening, winning the race and earning a much-deserved spot on Team USA.
She did it. She's going to the Olympics.
And here's the thing:
She won the race in 1:59.10.
That's less than two minutes. Your life can change - in terrible ways, yes, but also in beautiful ways - in less than two minutes.
And yet, what's easy to overlook is the fact that these two minutes came at the end of 11 years of work. ELEVEN YEARS - that's how long Kate has been running.
We all know what can happen, what does happen, to a person over the course of 11 years. Pain, loss, injury, growth, big dreams, self-doubt, fear, shaken faith, false starts, and the need to overcome hopelessness and each crisis of confidence. This is true for athletes and it is true for those who fight for social justice and it is true, I believe, for absolutely everyone.
The road is long, and we are tired. Too often, we find ourselves lost in the dark for what feels like an eternity. We question whether or not our hard work is worth it. Does the individual effort of any one person really matter?
But I will tell you what - watching Kate put all of herself on that start line, watching as she emptied herself onto that track, into that race, and seeing the tears streaming down the faces of all of those who know her and love her and all of those who have never met her but are inspired by her just the same - I was reminded that hope comes in the most unlikely places, and that one person's seemingly inconsequential effort can reverberate out, break through our pain, and bathe us in the power of strength and resilience.
So while I am not suggesting that sport is the answer to the world's pain and injustice, I do know that watching one woman's extraordinary effort to get the best out of herself is a damn good place to start.
During what feels like a particularly dark week, Kate gives me hope. Hope that even if the daily work of being our best selves (and trying, imperfectly, to build a better world) seems both endless and excruciating, that eventually it will all connect, and that one day we will experience a turning point that can change everything.