Running Against All Odds

According to the Olympic record this year, Marcell Jacobs (26) is the fastest man on earth. He ran the 100m race in 9.8 seconds. (Usain Bolt from Jamaica has the all-time record at 9.58 seconds). Jacobs’ win brought joy to many Italians, especially since this is the first medal for Italy in the 100m race. The odds were 30:1 against him.

As a child, Jacobs always dreamt of winning an Olympic gold medal. He started out as a long-jumper, but after an injury three years ago, switched to running. While training in Rome, he built a team around him that included a chiropractor, nutritionist, and mental coach.

Jacobs is Italian, but he is also African-American. Born in El Paso, Texas, he immigrated to Italy when he was six months old with his Italian mother. At the time, his father, who was in the US Army, was transferred to South Korea, and so ended the marriage. Jacobs said he lost contact with this father after that. “I never saw my dad from that time on,” he told the press.

What I found interesting about Jacobs’ story was what he said soon after winning Olympic goal. He did not attribute his break-away speed to his diet, a particular training regime, or inspiring last-minute words from his coach. No. He said that reconnecting with his estranged father gave him “the energy to be here today.”

Detail from Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son

Jacobs explained:

“I didn’t talk to my dad for many years, I considered him a stranger. He looked for me on Facebook, and I didn’t answer. I didn’t care. For years I had built a wall. Fortunately, recently, also thanks to the work with my mental coach, our relationship has been recreated.”

After nearly 25 years of silence, father and son have been communicating with each other since last year.  Jacobs said that before reestablishing the relationship with his father “his legs didn’t work so well, but now, my legs go really good when it’s a big moment.” He continued:

“It’s not all resolved yet, but at least we’re communicating. But our new relationship gave me the energy and the will to be everything here today.”

Jacobs story is a perfect example of how much energy we store in our unresolved personal issues, especially those that remain outstanding with each of our parents. The only way we can release our feelings is to feel them – no matter how old or painful they might be. Feelings that are not felt are retained in our bodies – our bodies remember everything even if we don’t (or avoid doing so). Feelings held in the body steal our energy – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Two Women Talking by Peter Worsley,

One of my favorite movies is Magnolia and one of my favorite lines in this movie is: “You may think you’re done with the past, but the past isn’t done with you.”

Or as James Stephens (1882-1950) elegantly wrote:

“The past must be reckoned with.

It is seldom as far behind us as we could wish.

It is more often in front blocking the way.

And the future trips over it just when we think

that the road is clear and joy our own.”

Madame Meerson and Her Daughter by Mary Cassatt

I have seen many clients reach for their own personal Olympic gold after tackling their past. This is one of the bravest journeys any person can make – and the one made by every true hero and heroine. Jacobs testimony is clear proof that there is no real running away, no matter how fast you can go. The only way to sprint further and faster ahead is to first run backwards – straight into the arms of your unresolved past.

Once the long and arduous road to redemption is achieved, true joy will appear.

The proof? Just look at Jacobs face!

3 thoughts on “Running Against All Odds

  1. Isabelle KUNG

    Outstanding and just to the point! So finely observed, so well described, so touching that none can run away from their past but, instead, feel eager to embrace it! Thank you Catherine you are a real psychologist, even for everyone via your writing!

  2. Catherine Ann Lombard Post author

    Hello Everyone,
    This is Catherine. One reader wrote to me:

    Dear Catherine
    A proper look at a past situation does not necessarily mean a good outcome between the protagonists
    Raking up the past
    Opening old wounds
    Ok a good assessment of the situation in the clear light of day, with a mentor, may well heal your own wound leaving you with just a scar. Which one would be wise not to pick.
    I am covered with old scars. They are part of me.
    But further action with the protagonist is most likely end up with a deeper wound. Trust me I have felt the fury of a revisited assailant. Legally and Verbally.
    Also it is not kind to pick at other peoples scars
    Some of my old scars I am proud of some I am not. But they are battle worn, and I soldier onI

    Here is my response:
    Dear Reader,
    I certainly did not mean to imply that by returning to one’s past
    you inflict harm/blame etc. on another person.
    This inner work of redemption is truly personal spiritual work.
    It is the work of facing one’s demons in the desert, not madly inflicting the demons on another.
    This work is done quietly inside, sometimes with the help of another.
    Once done, the outer world changes.
    We all have wounds, and some do need to be picked in order for us to move
    forward and heal. Some wounds are full of gangrene and need to be
    opened and soothed with a loving balm, full of grace.
    But only when you are personal ready and willing to do so. Not before.
    And not without help.


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