Saturday, March 14, 2009

Carlsbad, TX: Happy Happy, Joy Joy

Miles since last blog: 29.6
Miles Total: 2532.0


First off, I have yet another video for you today (as I did yesterday if you didn't check), so if you are an impatient little weevil you can wriggle your way to the bottom of the blog and look at that now.

My last day in San Angelo was yesterday and it was the best of the bunch without a doubt. I woke up late, and was off to speak to the 4th and 5th grades of Bonham Elementary School during their respective gym periods. It was a blast, I told the fourth graders a little about what I was doing and they paid rapt attention until all their kiddie energy was just bubbling up and out of them and the gym teacher had to put on music for them to dance to. Kids were sliding like Superman across the floor on their stomachs and jumping around and a few hung at the back of the classroom with me to ask me more questions and wish me well on my journey. The 5th grade was similar but we headed out early to see a first grade class.

Kids are awesome. It's amazing to see humans so naturally and unquestionably filled with wonder and excitement. In just a few years we manage to repress and destroy that capacity for such pure joy. When an adult is happy, or excited, there is always a small amount of restraint and wariness from being burnt by the world, when a kid is happy, it encompasses them. Every muscle in their face and body is twitching and jumping with a singular goal of expressing their happiness, they aren't worried about homework or school or car payments, their eyes are wide, their mouths can't hold the words in and their legs won't let them sit. Anyone lucky enough to be a part of this kind of moment has the kind of luck it takes to see bigfoot, something that is just a rumor or a faint memory in our grown up world. We try so hard as adults to recapture this kind of joy but I think we are afraid to more than unable, I kind of Icaruian lesson has been taught to us by life and no one wants to build a new set of wings only to have them destroyed again.

If the difference between 4th and 5th grades was surprising, the difference between 5th and 8th is staggering. It's hard to imagine the the mechanisms of society, even the social grind of teendom could so effectively douse such bright lights in such few years but it is certain when you have seen them both that these are the years when we start to change out of those amazing little people and into the grey oblivion of adulthood.

The joy that I take in my life is meeting people, teens, adults, the elderly and seeing that spark of joy flicker in their eyes when they see someone doing something crazy. That light still seems to be inside of many people, even if it never escapes again there is a place where they can revel in it and run through the fields of their mind when they take a step towards believing they can have their own adventure.

The evening was no less spectacular. I made dinner. A stir fry of venison, peppers, onions and quinoa. I don't cook often, I haven't cooked since I started this walk that I can remember, but it has also been a long time since I spent a substantial (four nights being substantial these days) period of time in a family. While I sliced and diced and marinated and fried, B and her youngest daughter made cupcakes for desert, my favorite food. I never cook for myself, I only cook when there are people there I care about and it felt good to have that chance on the road. Life on the road is good, even wonderful if not miraculous or should I go even higher? And yet the draw of a family tugs intermittently on my pant leg, nagging me to let it in, and I want to, but I no longer think they are entirely mutually exclusive. It may be harder and I may need to find an even more perfect partner than I had previously thought, but there was a time I never thought I could have the life I am leading now and I have found it is actually quite easy. The world is nothing if not a web of possibilities to get caught up in.

Walking into and then out of San Angelo I realized I had hardly done anything, and had seen very little up close and yet I knew that I would have a great fondness for it forever because of the people I met there and the kids I talked to, a place is it's people regardless of the buildings that stand there. During my stay the television news and newspaper had run stories on me and periodically someone would stop and talk to me. Each of them were great, fellow teachers, fellow travelers (63 countries is very impressive my fine feathered friend), and just plain old good curious people. My day ended in a church, having dinner with a teacher from the middle school I spoke at. His family was there and we enjoyed an italian dinner and they put me up for the night. It's hard to get momentum up every time I sit somewhere, it's hard to want to keep walking at times but I always do. I wonder sometimes whether it is hard because I don't want to leave the place I'm at, or because when I go I come closer to the end and I am not ready for this experience to stop.



Anonymous said...

Keep up the great work, it was great running into you and learning about your cause, the team is behind you from randy's bike and run shop

Anonymous said...

I would have offered you a ride had I known you needed it on Saturday when I talked with you. Glad to see you made it to Austin for SXSW. My friend and I are pulling for you - we're the professor/non-profit teacher dudes. Walk on, will make it. If you need a partner for a leg give me a shout at; I'll fly out and help you through the desert with bad stories, worse singing and questionable food from my Jetboil.

Dee_Licious said...

I volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and I specifically ask for a little girl who was about 8 years old. I remember reading a book called "Reviving Ophelia" a while back and it talked about that shift from about 8-10 years old. I felt like I would make the greatest difference by volunteering with a little girl before she reached pre-teen age.