Run is the story of an Irish-Catholic family that has suffered the death of their beloved mother. The husband and adopted black sons as well as the oldest, biological son mourn her loss. Their worship of her is exemplified by the Virgin Mary statue that bears such a strong resemblance to her and that the extended family argues over. Rebuilding the family, with the inclusion of the adopted children's birth mother and her daughter, make up the main of the story. Along the way, the passions of the children and the father are explored.
This story's themes spoke to me more than just its telling. Let me start with passion.
By passion, I mean that which moves us to caring and to action. I mean those activities, situations, truths, that bind us to them so that we'll seek them and spend time on them. We'll try to live our lives around them. In Run, such passions are expressed by each of the main characters and include a consuming scientific interest in fish--how they live, how they evolved, how they're structured, etc. Another is a passion for the Catholic faith. Another is a passion for politics, helping people and working government through holding public office. Yet another is running--the sheer love of physical running that leads the passionate towards a career in track.
I equate passion closely with inspiration. That which we are passionate about, inspires us. It makes us follow whatever path we must to engage with it. It is what excites us to the point we want to do nothing else. It makes our day-to-day bearable. In my opinion, based on my experience and observations, our passion is almost never our vocation. It happens, but it's rare. The need for food and shelter and health care is what generally prompts our vocational choices. Then debt keeps us from making changes. One character in Run demonstrates this. He follows a way that promises great prestige and financial reward, but abandons it in a moment of clarity for a vocation lesser in pay but greater in fulfillment.
Another character is inspired by faith, specifically, the Roman Catholic faith. His inspiration is focused on an uncle priest whom he admires as being good and fancies has the gift of miraculous healing. His passion for religious faith intersects with the other theme of family, and is expressed in his devotion to the well-being of his uncle.
The character inspired by running is perhaps the most elemental of them all. Her love for running expresses a very fundamental passion for just being. So her love is for being human, and all the other characters share in this passion to some extent (they were runners in school and feel like they could still do it).
The primary passion for each character is obstructed for them at points in the story. They feel they cannot pursue their passions for reasons of perceived obligations, or because feelings of guilt lead them to follow another path that is a penance. If they are able to come back to being true to themselves, they abandon their penance and return to their true way.
I think most of my journal entries have dealt with this passion/inspiration theme to one extent or other. Especially recently, since Sun Sep-15-2013: Seeing Wonder in the Mundane (or, "Josh and Me"). A lot of this is me examining my inspiration roots that wanted me to live as an adventurer, but that I couldn't resolve and so I'm left as a computer hack in an 8-to-5-same-as-everybody-else. Writing is my challenge to that. It allows me to pull from those early inspirations and express them in essays and fiction. I've always been more of an artist than a technician, anyway.
In Run, when the running-inspired character finds her place in a new family, she expresses her love for them, and for being with them, in running. And in running, she finds she wants them to see her, to validate her in this activity that is her skill and her passion. She wants this because she has bonded with them as family, and she is running for them as much as for herself.
The big theme of Run is, I think, this idea of building family, or rather, allowing it to build itself. I've long believed that families are created by bonds of love far more than by blood. Families of biology can be very dysfunctional. I suspect they often are and so people seek a replacement in mates, vocations, churches, various organizations, even cults. In any case, if it works out, they find the love and support of a genuine family.
When family is built on love, it holds no expectations for its members. All are accepted. Everybody has everybody's backs. When one is hurt, all are hurt. When one is exalted, all are exalted. Such family love can extend beyond the immediate family. It can extend to the clan and to the tribe. If it does, it probably produces the most stable of societies in the long run.
If you are part of such a family, you are blessed. I am. If you also are able to pursue your passion unhindered and with all the love in your being, you are doubly blessed.
I'm still working on that.
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You can find my Goodreads review of Run here.