Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gratitude to those who paved the path

I sat in my medieval latin class yesterday, and our professor was talking about the various dictionaries available to use when translating medieval Latin. There are eight enormous dictionaries, of different merits and sizes, and each provide medievalists with different interpretations of words. There are some dictionaries that scholars have been working on for over a century, and they are still not finished! They've been releasing them letter by letter every few years. The reason why this has been such a long process is because medieval Latin spanned over a millennium, and changed along the way, so the dictionaries need to highlight those changes.
I was talking to my friends in the class afterward about this. I said that you can't help but feel a sense of gratitude to all of the scholars who devoted their entire lives to a massive project that wouldn't even be completed in their own lifetimes. Those dictionaries are certainly a testament to how much those scholars loved Latin; they worked so that later generations could make the most of them.
I often feel that same sense of gratitude to those who ran before me. As a woman, I wouldn't even be able to enter marathons had it not been the work of women like Kathrine Switzer, who ran Boston in 1967 and proved that women could handle running the marathon distance. She then went on to advocate for adding the women's marathon in the Olympic Games. I wouldn't be able to run marathons if it weren't for women like Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the first Olympic Marathon in 1984. And there were so many others who ran when it was considered unladylike, dangerous, and unacceptable. They pushed and pushed, and now no one questions when women participate in distance running.
I've gotten to the point where I can't imagine my life now without running, which is still a fairly new mindset for me. It has just opened up so many doors and opportunities for me and enabled me to have so many positive experiences. So, to those who ran before me, thanks. I hope I can return the favor in some way.

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