If theres one word to describe my experience this weekend, it is this: humbling.
Let's rewind to Saturday.
I woke up feeling overwhelmed. Four million things on my to-do list and at least 3 people who will be disappointed with me by the end of the day no matter how hard I try.
Looking back on it, I was reverting to old behavior, avoidant behavior. In an earlier time, feeling the way I did- anxious, antisocial-- I probably would have cancelled all of my plans, gotten behind my canvas, put on an audiobook, and hid. Maybe for a couple days.
Guess what? I can't do that anymore. It's not an option.
Hiding is no longer an option, because what I'm doing isn't really about me anymore. There is my team, a group of extremely dedicated individuals who want to make a difference in the world as badly as I do.
And more than that, there are all the people who I want to help. Veterans, athletes, non-athletes.
Barefoot Jake setup a meeting with some of his friends down in San Diego. They are veterans, and some of them have been grieviously injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. It might sound a little silly to you, but I was really nervous about meeting them. I guess when it comes down to it, in my heart, I don't really feel all that worthy to represent and champion the men and women who fought for our country. In the beginning, when I started this project, I thought I understood what "sacrifice" meant. I guess I put it in a box with a bunch of other cliches that I didn't understand. But I guess thats part of misunderstanding. You don't know how wrong you are until you get smart enough to realize how stupid you were before. Does that make sense? A more eloquent way of putting it: Hindsight is 20/20.
We met up with these guys in a park in San Diego. I brought Turner New Zealand Filets to cook on the Grill that were generously donated to us by Noel Turner because he realized how badly we were hurting for money and needed grocery money. On the way down, traffic was terrible. It was madness. Tensions were high. Communications were static. I was planning on interviewing them on film with Robot, but as the day progressed and our plans kept getting sidetracked and delayed, I realized that this would probably be something that I would have to let go.
When they showed up to the park, everything changed. I've never been so astonished and touched by another human being. And it wasn't just one human being, it was five.
I don't how to describe the simultaneous feeling of humility, admiration, respect, connection, and love I felt immediately. Even writing this makes me feel it all over again. All I have to do is think of their eyes. A light seemed to shine from somewhere inside them, like their irises were lighthouse windows shining in a dark storm.
I have to wonder…is it me? Just now waking up? Is it that I am just now noticing the light in people, a light that has been there all along? Why was it that every time one of these veterans spoke to me I felt so humbled, so grateful?
Some of these guys lost their legs in combat. All of them have been through much, have seen so much. They were beautiful, and confident, and shining. They were open, and generous, and kind. Their spirits seems so strong and bright, and every time they thanked me for what I planned to do, I felt a twinge of self-consciousness, of silliness, of shame. Like it was such a silly little endeavor compared to what they had already been through. It makes me that much more motivated to run harder, to push farther, and to really make what I am doing count for something.
When I think about James or Tim or Cody rock climbing or running down the street with a prosthetic leg, it makes me realize that my bravery is a drop in the ocean. There is so much courage in the world, and so much love. I just wish there was some way to see it, to know it is there, to remind us that we are not alone, and there are people out there with valiant hearts and spirits that understand ours.
And now I think about their eyes, and I see that the light in them is like a beacon.
I'm starting to feel that way a lot. I have spent a lot of time trying to understand why I'm doing it in the last few weeks. What it began as certainly isn't how it's ended up thus far. I'm constantly being humbled by the aptitude, kindness, generosity, and greatness of the people who I'm working with, and the people who I'm running for.
Even though I have yet to come up with the money I need to complete this journey successfully, I'm finding that more than ever I am getting the spiritual and emotional strength I will need to complete the journey.