Feeling "Oneness" and "Purpose" on the streets of Dublin

Yesterday, I took part with my sister, her sister in law and more than 30,000 women and a few fab men in the annual 10km VHI Women’s Mini Marathon.

We did not participate for competitive reasons, but to raise money for our chosen charities on the day. My sister has a baby boy with Cystic Fibrosis and that inspired her and her sister in law to raise money for CF Ireland. I chose Crumlin Medical Research Foundation, as my nephew Noah, had spent the first 10 weeks of his life there and was so well cared for.

Looking around me yesterday, there were women wearing t-shirts representing their chosen charities, each one with a story as to why they nominated that charity. Many, worn proudly, with photos of loved ones who had lost their lives to some illness, condition or other.

There was a love in the air that was undeniably palpable. Conversations between friends floated skywards. The sun shone and brightened the mood even more and the breeze, cooled our warm and at times dehydrated bodies.

As we walked and jogged and ran, we sang along with the street side entertainers who beat their drums, creating a tribal feel that so represented the overarching feeling of the occasion. There was a kinship, a rapport, a solidarity of sorts, an unshakeable experience of “Oneness".”

It was expressed with a smile when you caught another’s eye, as an apology from the heart when you bumped into someone or passed them out as you marched on. That Oneness | Sameness | Togetherness translated into encouragement, respect, acceptance and empowerment.

For me, the route was quite nostalgic, as we took over the leafy suburb of Donnybrook and its surrounds, where I had walked the ‘beat’ for the first time, as a Garda in 1984.

Reflecting as I have lately, on my life so far, yesterday, I looked at the Garda station in Donnybrook village and recalled how I was so proud to start my career of public service. Little did I know then, how that service would evolve and transform as I, myself, evolved and transformed over more than thirty five years.

As I brought my attention back to the mini marathon and once more looked around me, I felt a pull on my heart as I asked myself, “How can I help more?”

Much like this 10km mini marathon, in life, there is a finish line. There is an expiry date for each one of us.

I, for one, want to fulfil my obligations in life, honouring my purpose and being of the best use possible while I can.

This one day annual display of solidarity, is a great reminder to us all that we can go beyond our limitations and get to the finish line of our life with a sense of satisfaction that we played full out and overcame our challenges with conviction and knowledge, that we are more powerful and resilient than we may have first thought.

We can look upon our experience in the 10km event as an opportunity to reflect on our own life and ask what sort of a race or pace am I living?

I invite you, to not let that feeling of accomplishment end at yesterday’s finish line. Bring it into your everyday life and make the changes you want to see in the world.

Notice the sameness, the oneness between your family and friends. We all want the same things in life in the end, support, love, acceptance and peace.

We are interdependent, clearly evident amongst the 30,000 of us who showed up yesterday. We “egged” each other on, by our mere presence, mostly in a passive way, except for the enthusiasm of the many bystanders who clapped us towards the finish line.

As the late poet Maya Angelou wrote “We are more alike, my friends than we are unalike”

Give yourself a pat on the back. You achieved more than finishing a race, or raising money for a charity. You grew as a person yesterday. You reached new limits. It’s time to register that and savour it and allow it to spur you on, to go for what you want, with self-belief and worthiness.

Your life is yours, you don’t need anyone’s permission to live it, just yours.