That’s a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche. I know that because I am very cultured. And because I’ve seen Coming to America about 30 times.
Fauja Singh didn’t come to America. He went to Canada, where he completed a marathon. Why is this a big deal? Because the man is 100 years old.
And so it went. The Indian went to Toronto – not to be confused with the Indian who is Tonto – and accomplished something no one ever has. (And yes, folks, you can count on some jokes here… I have nothing but extreme admiration for the man, but I gotta do my job.)
My Dad and my friend, Derrick Butler, himself a marathoner, forwarded me the article. Derrick informed me that the shirt old Mr. Singh is wearing (and yes, I think it’s OK to refer to him as “old”) actually reads, “Sikhs in the City.”
Not that Fauja can tell you this. The man is illiterate. What has he been doing for a century? Just hasn’t had the time to get around to learning how to read? In 10 decades? At this rate, completing marathons at 100, I suppose he’s planning on cracking open his first book at 110? He probably will, too. He didn’t start running consistently till 89. Watch this man read more than Sir Francis Bacon in the next 11 years.
And get this – the man has written a biography. Some would call that inspiring. No, it isn’t. An illiterate centenarian has written a BOOK and finished a 26-mile RACE. I can barely motivate myself to finish this blog post and then later step outside and walk fifty feet to mail a LETTER.
That’s the thing. Inspiring stories… aren’t.
Take Helen Keller. Everyone is always like, “Isn’t that so inspirational that a blind and deaf woman accomplished as much as she did?” No, it isn’t inspirational. It’s DEPRESSING. I have my full faculties and I’ll never accomplish that much – even if I live 100 years. Thanks a lot, Fauja.
You know whom I really feel sorry for? Well, besides the five people he BEAT. (Wow.) Although they did have a hard time seeing around his turban to the finish line…
His entire lineage – that’s who. My friends’ grandfathers catch a fish that you can SEE and they hear about it for years. Can you imagine his grandkids? Or his grandkids lecturing his great-grandkids? “Well, that’s great you got an A in trigonometry, but Fauja-Ji ran a marathon at age 100. Just sayin’.”
But that’s exactly what he did. The Punjabi, on a diet of tea, ginger curry, and “being happy,” made his mark. I thought maybe he drank two 5-Hour Energy bottles. Or at least did it the way most Punjabis would – a steady stream of alcohol and Red Bull.
- Eight hours 25 minutes – that’s just barely longer than the average Bollywood movie… and almost as long as M. Night Shyamalan’s movies feel.
- He finished in 3,850th place, proving Indians may always be late, but we still get the job done.
- Funny that a minority staked this claim, but it should have nothing to do with… race.
Obviously, I’m a standup so I jest, I jest. The man deserves – and has – our respect. It is truly an incredible feat. (Or feet.) Congratulations, Mr. Singh. You ARE truly an inspiration.
Rajiv Satyal is a comedian. He resides in Los Angeles. He is the Punjabi with the Puns and the Jabs.