bear the cross.

As four-time Olympic champion, Mo Farah, crossed the line at his final London Marathon, he was visibly emotional at the prospect of finally hanging up his trainers after an illustrious career. He has dominated long-distance running like no other British athlete, having overcome a difficult upbringing in which he was illegally trafficked into the U.K. from Somalia at just eight years old. To achieve what he has with the adversity that he had to overcome is testament to his strength of character and resilience, and he has conquered whatever lay before him in his stride.

But there comes a point where we must all stop running. Our desire to keep driving forward to fuel whatever feeds our journey will eventually reach a crossroads, where we must properly contemplate our current trajectory. What are we running from? Where are we running to? Can we continue to stomach the gruelling yards as we once did? Just because we are running somewhere doesn’t mean that we are moving in the right direction, as we convince ourselves that the presence of motion masks the underlying inertia.

I’ve been running for so long that I often forget that there existed a time where everything was still. For a fifth of my entire life, I’ve been frantically moving towards any opportunity for growth, understanding, and atonement that will have me, hoping that the lessons that I learn on the way will bring me closer to self-acceptance and, ultimately, redemption. I have met some wonderful people on this path and have been privileged to be involved in important, rewarding projects that help foster a better community. A combination of my telos and my penance, I have raced into this journey to positively affect the world around me and to make up for lost time in that endeavour, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it given the circumstances. Whilst a part of me wishes that I had never sown the seeds of this path in the first place, this treacherous road less travelled (and highly unrecommended) has forced me to confront my failings and to evolve for good.

This race has consumed me out of a sense of obligation. I tell myself that I cannot wish this cross away and so it is mine to bear. This wooden burden and I have become symbiotic; I need its heavy frame resting on the back of my neck as my punishment and it needs my harboured guilt and shame to justify its very existence. I used to fantasise about a ceremonial lifting of this cross when I first started running, of how the constant blurring of the world I was experiencing would gradually fade into the clarity I was used to in a moment of the purest catharsis. The further I ran, the more I became disillusioned with that idea and accepted that sometimes a denouncement never arrives. Some people are running forever, and maybe that the peace that rests on other people was to elude me as well.

To stop in my tracks has provided much-needed respite, albeit bittersweet. Whilst the feeling of all that repressed exhaustion bubbling up to the surface has felt liberating, being transported back to relive those very moments that I have been on the run from has felt sickening. It’s difficult to assess at this stage how much more I can continue to endure, but that is sadly my only option. Facing up to the consequences of your actions involves doing so indiscriminately of how the reckoning manifests itself. I did not release the creatures from Pandora’s box but, in playing my part in opening it, I have a responsibility to slay them for good.


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