These colors run and they run fast, faster than you, and they’ve run since the beginning and they’ll run and run and run until suddenly—and it will be suddenly—they run damn out. With the notable exceptions of the native peoples who survived and the hundreds of thousands brought to this land against their will, this country is and has been one of runners. At some point in our family trees, most of us are the product of people who were so fed up with their lives that they decided to drop everything and take a (often long and miserable) journey to a place called America. We are the descendants of malcontents.
And so to this day a great dissatisfaction permeates American life. Nothing is ever enough, not necessarily because we are ungrateful, but because it is in our blood to yearn for more. John Steinbeck described it as “a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here.” An obnoxious Cadillac commercial put it less elegantly, saying that “we’re crazy-driven hardworking believers.” However you want to describe it, it’s a disease. But if you were to somehow cleave this aspect away from us, we would be, at long last, happy—even as the country collapsed under its own weight.
Thus, Meb. What do you say when the Boston Marathon, this Boston Marathon, is won by an American, the first American in three decades, who came here as 12-year-old refugee? You say “of course, who else could it have been?” Meb Keflezighi’s story is our story, and when we talk about “the American Dream,” whatever that may be, we are talking about someone like Meb. Somewhere in the back of your mind you recall that the Tsarnaevs were refugees from their home country, and you marvel at the symmetry and poetry of life. In the span of a year we have witnessed the grand American story unfold on the stage of our city streets: needlessly violent, prone to spectacle, and always, always running.