I write my story…
I write it in the beach sand,
So the waves will take it into the oceans,
Until they become legends that sailors tell while drinking.
I tell my story to the wind.
May it carry through the seasons,
drop it in a canyon far away.
Will put it in a piece of paper and roll it tight,
So it fits in a bottle that the tides will carry away.
May them inspire someone I will never meet.
I write my story with blood on the asphalt,
Scream it out loud before the rain washes it away.
Push my voice against the wind,
Move forward against my deepest fear.
Life is not worth anything if you don’t have a good story to tell.
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!
…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!
I saw a documentary about the origins of surfing and in that video they explained that the first Polynesians that had their culture wrapped around surfing believed that the final goal of a man was to surf. That was the ultimate goal in life.
Sometimes I think that in the world of travelers something very similar can be stated about their lives. If you press them hard enough for a purpose, reasons, or motivations that keep them on the road you will see a common pattern in most cases:
Travel is freedom. It’s a fantasy and an escape from routine.
It is also not expensive. Oftentimes spending more money will only build more separation between you and the places and people you travelled so far to see. Most of the amazing experiences you will find will be on the streets, at the houses of people you will meet, at witnessing how they will open their doors and their hearts to you.
Connecting with people intensifies the experience. Extroverts have more fun. Your attitude will set how you feel about it more than the experiences themselves. If you don’t enjoy a place it is probably because you don’t know enough about it. Give every culture the benefit of an open mind. Be positive and optimistic at all times and you will notice that your attitude will also be contagious.
Traveling can make you happier. It will break many of your assumed truths, it will challenge your previous knowledge about other people and places. You will start to make up your own mind about other cultures instead of adopting other people’s opinions as if they were your own ideas. It’s humbling to travel and find that other people don’t have the same dreams, don’t watch the same news, don’t have the same concerns and priorities. They also wouldn’t trade places with you, even if they appreciate and like who you are. Traveling you will learn new ways to measure quality of life.
Becoming a traveller destroys xenophobia and other forms of prejudice. It will make you understand and appreciate other cultures. Rather than fear diversity you will celebrate it. The most valuable souvenirs you will bring to your final destination will be the pieces of different cultures you will choose to absorb into your own character.