Miles to go

I don’t remember when I started needing wake-up calls all the time.

I used to be calibrated. Aware. Dreams were things to be pursued, and not negotiated. Suddenly it’s midlife, and interest rates matter. Retirement investments. In-career supplemental opportunities. 

No adventure.

The Great Settling.

We’re all following the same script, without knowing who wrote it. It’s not a bad story, either, but younger You wouldn’t have spent more than an hour watching or reading it. That should tell us something.

I guess I’m lucky that it only takes an alarm on the lowest setting to jar me out of slumber. One weekend in the woods, surrounded by people from all avenues of life, trudging up and down hills. By mile seventeen, I remembered what I did not want to do, and that is where I was headed. Not anymore.

J was working on Wall Street when the implosion hit, and suddenly, no job. Back to the city where his wife was from, and K is now his boss–a spritely, overwhelmingly kind dynamo of a woman who knows the names of everyone in her company. Their chitchat made me think of how nice it would be to work for a company where even when the work is tough, co-workers have your back in unexpected ways. I wish I could be a part of their team.

L went to Iraq twice, and is now studying information technology. He towers over me, but his eyes lit up when he talked about the amazing implications of applied big data. He spoke warmly of his kids and stopped often on the trail to take photos with a seven-pound camera. 

D had a bad case of bronchitis he couldn’t shake in time to tackle the full trail, so he moved to a support position and with C, L, and C, ran the logistics of checkpoints and made sure everyone got what they needed. While I nursed my undertrained ankles during my Day Two time-out, he told me about the $60,000 it costs to climb Everest, and how two Sherpas carry everything for the Adventurer, setting up camp and cooking as well. These Sherpas are paid a percentage of that overall amount, and they live like kings in one of the poorer regions of that area of the world. “These guides are essential to the survival of anyone who wants to climb that mountain, and they end up living to carry things up to the top for Westerners.”

L is hardcore. She has twenty years on me, outpaced me two-to-one, and her kilowatt smile is mud-proof. Her energy is infectious, and she laughed most sincerely when her feet looked their worst. After the bus shuttled us back to the starting point to return us to our cars, she waved like a kid at a parade as she drove by, tapping the happy Honda horn of her Civic.

C and D talked about Selection when we caught our breath at a checkpoint. One had gone to Ranger school–the other went for Special Forces. We talked about nicknames, and D said he has a few things to explore when he finishes up at the university in December. C played soccer with his kids at the finish line. I could barely stand up straight.

J put the whole thing together, and raised over $120,000 for his company. I think this is only the beginning. What he builds will undoubtedly eclipse expectations.
There were dozens more than them, and every one of them was a radiant cosmic fire burning in human form. From Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, I met more than fifty people I ordinarily probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to cross paths with, and even though I didn’t have the physicality to complete the full seventy miles, I am happy with a painful 42. 

Happy Trails to all of us. There is much more out there.

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