As I cross the finish line, I fall to my knees. I can’t stand, I can’t breathe, I can’t even see straight. My heart rate is so high it feels as if my heart is going to pop. I feel the lactic acid running throughout my muscles causing an excruciating burning sensation in every single muscle in my body. I attempt to stand, only to be rejected by my body’s own weakness. I fall face first into the concrete. Thankfully, I am too weak to fully stand up so my fall is not far. As I lay here on the ground I can feel my stomach acting up. “Oh no!” I say to myself. Before I can say anything else, I vomit all over the ground and myself. I can’t believe that has just happened in front of everybody. How embarrassing! The paramedics come up to check on me, making sure that I am alright before lifting me up into a wheelchair. As I sit there slowly starting to recover, I think of all the hard work and training that I have put into this and thought to myself, all my effort finally paid off. After the paramedics conclude their checkup, my family comes to congratulate me. The stench of sweat and vomit still radiates from my feeble body. As my parents wheel me off to the car, a reporter comes up to us wondering if she can ask me some questions. I tell her “I would be glad to answer any questions, as long as you don’t mind the stench.”
She giggles and begins to proceed with her initial question. “How does it feel to be the youngest person to complete the L.A. marathon?” she asks. I reply, “It feels great! I am really proud of myself and I am glad to see that all my hard work has paid off.” Immediately after I make my comment, I notice the reporter smirk and roll her eyes. She
finds it funny that I consider what I do to be work. In the eyes of the reporter, she does not see running 26 miles in less than three hours as work, because that is all she sees. She misses the countless hours of training, getting up at four-thirty every morning in order to beat the mid-day heat. She doesn’t realize the time and commitment that was put into something that I consider to be work. She sees work as an occupation, as a job that one gets paid for. She thinks that work is something someone has to do as a means of earning ones livelihood, or a place of employment. By doing that, she only sees two of the twenty-four dictionary definitions of work. As the reporter begins to ask the next question, I unintentionally cut her off. I tell her, “I am sorry, I can’t answer any more questions. I am already late for work.” She simply smiles and thanks me for my time.
The word work has a wide variety of meanings. Work can range from running a marathon, reporting the news, or caring for wounded athletes, to simply supporting a friend. It all depends on what we are viewing. I consider training and running to be fun and a good source of exercise, and I think of an occupation as work. Some people would consider running to be work, and their occupation as fun. It varies from person to person. Every human being is always working, it is just a matter of what they consider work to be. Work can be the simple act of reading a book or eating lunch. It can be working a nine to five job five days a week or running a marathon. The word work is too broad of a word to explain what someone is doing; its various meanings should not be constrained to only one view.