We all know there are peaks and valleys in life, and last week, as a nation, was definitely a valley.

It all started off with something that was personal to me and many avid runners in the Lowcountry and across the world. The bombings at the 117th Boston Marathon along the usually glorious and joyful last two-tenths of a mile of the race — the dash to the finish line — was surreal and tragic.

The horrific event, which killed three beautiful, young, vibrant people and left dozens of others with life-altering injuries, will cast a dark cloud over what is a mecca to runners, who journey to Boston and its hallowed course and tradition, for years to come — if not forever.

Even before the suspects in those acts of cowardice were identified, there was an explosion of another sort at a fertilizer plant in an unassuming little town in central Texas that killed more than a dozen people and injured 200 more.

Even though work kept me busier than usual last week, I found myself during evening news reports shedding tears as the stories unfolded of 8-year-old Martin Richard, 23-year-old Lu Lingzi and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, who lost their lives at the Boston Marathon.

The image of Martin holding up the poster he made saying, “No more hurting people. Peace,” and sprinkled with hearts and a peace sign will live forever in my memory.

Walk the valley

A former girlfriend, knowing what Boston meant to me, called me a couple of days after the bombing to see how I was doing.

The conversation was helpful because it made me recall a yoga class we went to where the teacher talked about walking the peaks and valleys of life. And that while most people celebrate the peaks, the valleys often are seen as a bad place to be.

But they shouldn’t be.

As contrary as it may seem, valleys give you as much perspective, perhaps more than, as the peaks. Not distracted by the lofty views, valleys are places for introspection, thought and a renewed focus for change.

The intense coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing made me think about how little the national media gives this American tradition on a routine basis. Perhaps a short story on the winners.

Death and destruction at a place that I know well, having run that stretch of Boylston Street seven times since 2000, became instantly synonymous with Sept. 11. Terror, not joy.

The takeaway

The valley we walked through last week, similar to the one we traversed after the shootings at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., before Christmas, offers a reminder that we all should seek peace and justice in our daily walks in life.

In our national grief, we should not miss the opportunity it gives us to reflect, to broaden our perspective and find ways, small and large, to help those in need and to stand up for what’s right.

Walk the valley and know that it makes the views from the peak even more meaningful and beautiful.

Reach David Quick at dquick@postandcourier.com.