I have been meaning to publish a photo that I consider the best one or the most representative of this entire experience. Can’t do it like that. The experience was made of meeting and interacting with hundreds of people that helped me from the start.
So here it is. It’s a mosaic of me running during the last day, just minutes from finishing, and each tile shows someone I have met or a situation I like to remember. If we have met, chances are your picture is here too. Click on the mosaic to download and enjoy!
I think I am a very strong guy. If not physically, at least I think I have a strong heart, and the attitude of a warrior. For the sake of explaining what I have in mind here I will set aside all modesty and say that yes, I know I am strong.
But what does a really strong man do when he sees a woman who is even stronger? The only right thing to do is take you hat off and acknowledge it.
Eden is the strongest woman I know personally. And oh man, I know a lot of women, most of them amazing women. I was raised by strong, smart, independent women. I was married to strong, charming, witty, fabulous women. My girl friends are all super cool and interesting women. But Eden shadows US all.
So what is it that makes her so strong?
She has chosen to help others before she helps herself. She puts the welfare of others above her own. She cares that people, that nobody else cares about, will have a roof over their heads even when she is living in her car. She contributes and even jeopardizes her own finances so other will have something. She is the kind of person that will give everything, do anything, and go anywhere for others. I don’t know of any other quality that means more strength than that.
She never tells anyone what to do, and of course she never told me. But the light of her example shines too bright to be ignored, and at some point I felt I needed to do something about it, something to help her do what she does.
Not that she is easy to deal with. Kind of the other way around: I can’t talk to her sometimes. Her open mindness is mind boggling, and paradoxically her prejudices are just as impressive. She is smart as an old priest, but has a very hard time learning some new things. She can talk her way out of a submarine. She will dazzle you with her knowledge of everything and will leave you for days digesting what you just found out about yourself when you met her, like a python would take its time digesting a big animal, slowly and painfully.
I decided to raise money for her efforts during my run across America. Most of all, I decided that raising money to help her will not end at the pier in Venice, that is something I will keep doing from now on.
Eden has been a great friend. Someone who challenges me, irritates me at times, but at every turn shows with her compassion and love something my heart has been eager to learn. How can I repay that gift? How can one honor that?
Thank you, Eden. This run is dedicated to you. May this always remind you that there are plenty of people following your example, willing to help your efforts, and eager to learn from your endless love.
If there is someone to honor, someone to praise, and someone to support in this story, Eden is that person. I appreciate all the support and kudos and praise you all have been giving me. But when you feel like doing something for real, when you feel the urge to go beyond words and actually act for the sake of others, please choose to help this wonderful woman. She will make you proud at every turn, I promise you that!
We first met in Boston at a couchsurfing meeting last year and kept in touch ever since. John went out on a road trip across America and decided to settle in Hermosa Beach, just south of Los Angeles. He hosted me, helped with driving me around in his super cool Jeep, and he was a major help on the last two days taking pictures for us.
…until they know how much you care.
That is the case with all kinds of service, from telephone companies to restaurants, from car washes to politics. Nobody cares how much you know about something until they feel you care about them.
One recent example I found in my massage therapist. From day one Anastasia proved not just to be friendly and accommodating, she also showed in many ways that she really wants to help and cares about your well being, as a client and as a friend.
She went out of her way to learn about my long distance running, to figure out what would be the the points more affected, the muscles that would require the most attention, the methods that would yield the most results. She took the time to run with me, to learn barefoot running herself, to figure out how to make her massage sessions much more effective than they would be otherwise.
That is a quality, a human quality, that we should bring to every aspect of our lives: Kindness. That is the one quality that will make you a better professional, a better friend, better at anything you put yourself into.
Anastasia has been stalking me… ughhhhnn… welll… hum ham… she has been following me online during these four months I have been on the road and her support, encouragement, and good humor have been fabulous.
I seem to have an amazing capacity to locate and connect to the best people, the most generous and loving ones, and they always become great friends. Here is one of those great beings!
It was a perfect day!
The weather was just perfect. Crystal clear and mild temperatures. As I approached Venice Beach some hashers started showing up and we made it a dash to the pier. It was emotional, it was fun, and it was memorable!
It is not easy to explain the feelings one goes through near and at the end of such an event. It would require a lot of explanation and background to express what was going on.
Eden brought us three bottles of champagne and beers. She also brought me a very special gift: A straightjacket! That was sure to draw some laughs at the bar later on.
We had a really nice time and proceeded to visit some bars in the neighborhood.
My friends and hashers put some money together and they paid for my first tattoo!
Rachel has been in touch with me since about the time I left Florida! She called other hashers, posted many messages online, showed up at my events, bought me burgers and beers… what a great show of support!
Hashers, again, have been great to me. When I ran the last day I end up at the pier in Venice Beach surrounded by hashers and they quickly become friends.
The Red Lion has been already one of our favorite spots in Los Angeles. A nice German place serving excellent food and great beer. Choosing it for our party was an easy decision.
They treated us very well, offered specials on the drinks, and the service was excellent as always. We had several friends coming over during the evening and help us celebrate nearing the end of this challenge.