Back in the prehistoric era, when I was attending what we called junior high school, I was a half-miler in track for about 15 minutes.
You know I intensely dislike running, at least without a life-threatening reason. But I was young, and junior high didn't offer baseball as a spring sport. So there I was.
I only competed in a few races before I came up with a medical reason to stop running (appendicitis). Believe it or not, I actually won a race or two before they let me go.
I honestly don't remember a lot about it — it was a really, really long time ago. But I do remember that last 50 yards or so after rounding the last turn and seeing the finish line.
The feeling was hope, or maybe more accurately, relief. That finish line meant the end of a long, hard slough running around for no apparent reason.
I'm getting that feeling again this week.
Sunday, we will be falling back, ending Daylight Saving Time by turning clocks back an hour. Add the chilly temperatures on morning walks this week, and it clearly is an end of a season — one most of us are glad to see go.
Then Tuesday, we get to say we are at the end of the interminable election season. No doubt more political drama is in the wings, but for most of us, we can say come Election Day, "what's done is done."
And, believe it or not, a vaccine to fight against the coronavirus is just around the corner. There is a light at the end of the COVID tunnel.
We can't be blamed if there's a small voice in our collective heads warning that instead of signaling the end of the tunnel, that light means a train is coming our way. After all, it feels like every time we've started to stand in the last seven months or so, we've been slapped back down with more restrictions, more bad news.
Medical experts warned months ago that a resurgent coronavirus threat would accompany the end of warm weather. People would start congregating in closed spaces, huddle together for warmth and start spreading germs — I mean viruses — around.
Now we're staring at a holiday season under the COVID cloud. Every day in the last week, I've heard one expert after another recommend families scratch the Thanksgiving feast. I heard one yesterday who said even close families should be wearing masks when they weren't gnawing on a turkey bone. Seriously?
Some like to point the blame for the "second wave" on those who think they are making a political statement by not wearing a mask or bringing lots of people together. Another segment of society simply won't believe that masks work or that the coronavirus is a serious medical threat.
Personally, I think people are just worn out. They've made it to the last turn of the track, but they don't know if they've got enough energy to make it to the finish line — particularly if they have to do it in a specific lane.
It's all too easy to think, "whatever is going to happen is going to happen no matter what I do. I'm tired of not hugging my (wife, husband, significant other, kids, grandkids, etc.). I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
That, my friends, is the train entering the tunnel.
But I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here. Maria and I will be cooking a turkey this year, and we'll be setting places for daughter Aimee and grandkids Korie and Carter. And I'm not going to be pulling my mask up between bites.
I rationalize it by saying we've been around Aimee and the kids since the beginning back in March. It's all good. And my new mantra is, "That's not a train, not a train, not a train."
I do think I see the end of the fire-watch tunnel, and the political tunnel, which never really ends, is at least opening up for a breather.
And while it may still be a ways down the track, I believe the vaccine crossing is coming to slow down, then stop the coronavirus train. Can we make it to that spot?
I think we can, I think we can, I think we can.