“If you quit—quitting will become easier and easier for the rest of your life.” ~Osman Minkara
This statement caught my attention in lieu of what happened yesterday. I was out running, Like I do. Like I have done a million times. Like so many of my friends in my neighborhood do. I was running with a friend as I have been convinced that I shouldn’t run by myself anymore. We had just rounded a corner to head back towards the house, about three blocks from where I live and I heard a noise. My friend had been running with the keys in his hand and I turned around just to see the keys fly to the ground. I saw a motorcycle with a driver and a man on foot who had just gotten off the back of the moto approaching me with determination. Then I looked down, about waist level and I saw the gun. I looked at the gun. It was a pistol- like a Smith and Wesson and I didn’t really notice much of anything else as my eyes locked on it. I can’t remember anything about what the guy looked like. Just the gun.
Oh God I thought. Only last weekend, one of my other employees had gotten shot, grazed across the stomach. Less than a month ago, Mario had gotten shot and is awaiting reconstruction on his face.
The man looked up at me and said in perfect Creole. “Give me the phone,” I handed it over. I know it probably seems stupid to be running with an iphone. But I always like to use the running apps that help me track my distance, stats, and calories. It keeps me motivated to run. And besides. Even if it were an ipod, I am pretty sure it wouldn’t have made a difference. The same thing might have happened.
After that he asked me for money. I looked down at my yoga pants and tight running shirt. I was hiding nothing. I had nothing on me. Just the phone. At that point he waved the gun at both of us as if he was motioning for us to get up against the wall. I just kept thinking to myself: Just don’t shoot us. Don’t shoot us.
He appeared to be satisfied with what I gave him and then abruptly turned and got back on the motorcycle and sped off.
We just stood there for a second wondering what had just happened. We did a funny fist bump and laughed as much of the tension off as we could. We were grateful we were still alive. Grateful they had made that decision not to pull the trigger. Grateful that my kids still have a mom. Grateful that my artisans still have me around to advocate for them.
Today has been sobering. It has been depressing. It is hard to reflect on a world where you can’t safely go for a jog, where kids can’t play outside anymore, where you can’t get on an airplane without getting checked for bombs. The messed up people of the world sure mess it up for the rest of us. I was angry today. Angry and sad. I wanted to go run today. I almost did. I wanted to put up a big middle finger to the guys who did this just to show them that they didn’t knock me down. That I was still free.
But I am not. If I want to live in this world, I have to use more caution. We all adapt to what is going on in this world. We all have gotten so used to being handicapped by caution or fear that we don’t even remember what it was to be free.
So I ran on a treadmill today. I hate the treadmill. But today the treadmill is a symbol of resilience. I may get knocked down, but I won’t stay down. I will find a way to do what I need to do. We have to find a way to do the things we are supposed to do. No matter what. I need to keep selling artisan goods so that our artisans have a fighting chance at raising their children to be more than poor orphans. I need to be a mom, and exercise, and take care of myself, and eat right. Even if I have to adjust how I do things. I will not quit. Because quitting once just makes it easier to quit again.