A blogger named Bryan Vaughn wrote a post called "Why We All Hate Your 13.1 Stickers." At this point, Bryan's post has gone viral, spurring thousands of comments. I decided to write an open letter to Bryan Vaughn, because I think he raises some interesting points.
We thank you for your blog rant pointing out your reaction to 13.1 stickers. Indeed, numbers can be quite infuriating. In fact, compared to words, they are just insipid. And you're right – nothing should ever be quantified. PETA got it wrong: Meat isn't murder – counting things is murder.
Just the other day, I was looking at my beautiful, calloused feet and the thought crossed my mind that I have ten toes. Suddenly, I was outraged. Numbers are taking over everything – even my feet. Why can't I just have toes? Why do there have to be ten? For the love of God. It's enough to make me want to chop off my foot at the ankle, but then I'd still have five toes and one foot, and counting somehow manages to take over life like a monolithic force of serial destruction.
All joking aside, Bryan, I like that you point out that words and symbols are okay on oval stickers but that numbers are not. I'm inclined to surf on your argument for minute. You see, 13.1 isn't actually a number – it's a symbol. It means a lot more than thirteen miles and one-tenth. It's more than 30 songs on an iPod or 52.4 laps around a standard track. For many, it represents the destruction of a fear. For others, it's the greatest liberation they've ever felt. For me, it meant breaking a lot of negative cycles in my life and turning my power toward something progressive. Bryan, I know you feel me on that.
A marathon isn't a number either. 26.2 is a symbol of determination, of setting a goal and meeting it. For many, it's the greatest memory they'll ever have – fans cheering, sweat, pain, rain, step after step toward the understanding that they can get through anything. It's a lifetime in the span of morning. 26.2 means that you understand that your life is truly in your own hands. Bryan, it's incredible, really. The world is full of incredible, good people with the propensity to love and lift one another. When runners put stickers on their cars, they're not saying, "I'm better than you." They're saying, "I did this. It was amazing."
We're taught to show-and-tell as children. To be excited about something and project it. Then, we're shamed for it as adults. If humans could stop shaming each other, life could be a far less miserable experience. For everyone.
It's easy to hate cars when you're in traffic. It's hard to remember that there are people inside of those cars, and they deal with a lot of the same inner and outer struggles you do. I know, Bryan -- I get pissed off at cars too. We're all just trying to make it in this world. The joke's not really on anyone. The joke's on all of us, together.
But the biggest reason I personally love your post is that you've got a lot of frustration and anger to project, Bryan.
I think that means you'd make a great runner. It also means you've seen enough of these stickers to drive you to the edge of psychosis, which means you're teetering on neurosis, and it's the perfect time for you to get running shoes and get your ass out there. Some of the runners I run with are the most biting, sarcastic, sharp, critical people I've ever met. But I love the shit out of them, and having read your post, I bet you would too. Beneath all that marvelous snark are warm beating hearts and a desire to find something more than stoplights and coffee breaks in this short, sweet life we have.
By now, runners all over the world have read your blog post. I'll speak for everyone when I say this: Come run with us. You'll fit right in. You'll get high on dopamine and Nuun Energy and bananas. You'll surprise yourself. You'll see that 13.1 and 26.2 aren't just obnoxious numerals. They're invitations to an amazing journey.
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