Wednesday, March 11, 2009

San Angelo, TX: Do it for the Kids

The main thing you should know is that I don't plan my days. Things happen the way they do and I just kind of roll through it all enjoying the trip. I know where I'm going more or less, the major cities and my approximate route, but very little about when I'll actually arrive or what's waiting for me there or on the way. Imagine a relaxed version of Quantum Leap, me roaming the planet trying to put right what once went wrong, or maybe it's more like the old Kung Fu television show without the fights. I like to think it's The Hulk, that's the comic book dork in me, except I don't get angry or green and my legs never de-hulk, seriously, they are freakishly big.

I don't plan my blogs either, I sit down and word vomit just erupts from my fingers, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always honest and with at best a few notes jotted down on my arm as a guide. With all this said, I do have a plan today for this blog, but first I'm gonna try to butter you up.

I spent the day talking to students at Lee Middle School, three classes in two sittings. I didn't plan these either, it was all thanks to B, my host, who worked really hard to make sure that I got to speak to as many people as possible today and for the rest of my time in San Angelo. It always feels good being in front of a class for me, it's not the attention, I'm terribly shy sometimes, but I just love the learning process from either side. Really there is only one side, if you've never been a teacher let me enlighten you to the fact that we learn a lot from our students as well. The information might not be presented in a lecture with easily digestible visual aids, but there is a message that each student is delivering to you while you interact. An interested face can be an entire dialogue between a student and a teacher even without words. As a teacher you can see when someone understands something, that 'AHA! moment,' I live for that moment, and I get to experience it with people as I learn how to reach them.

It was middle school, some kids were too scared, too cool, or too . . . whatever, to get too involved, but for some of them, maybe, I reminded them just how big and wonderful the world can be.

"We're not surrounded by water," B said to me in the car, "but this is an island. We're out here on our own and there's not much around." She was telling me about how easy it was, especially for kids who grow up here, to forget about the rest of the world and the possibilities it held.

"You never know what kids are going to be interested in," she continued. "When Jolly Green (my friend bike riding all 48 states) came through he talked with a younger group and they were just shocked that he was 26 and didn't have kids. It was like that had never occurred as a possibility to them. They thought that you graduated High School and you start having kids, some of their parents were only 16 when they got pregnant." This, for us, is the kind of huge AHA moment we can get from a class. A big trade in reality checks on world views. In a simple static world the idea that Jolly Green and I could do these things only because we DIDN'T have a house and a car and all the things we were supposed to have according to the rest of the world, it can be disorienting. And for JG or I, in our tumbling sunshine world of chaos, the view of these kids can grind us to a halt and make us take notice of the 'real world' that we so casually inhabit.

I can't say that I changed any lives today, but I got my shot at it thanks to some good people, parents, teachers, a principle and the kids. I also can't say that the idea that I may be one of those cheesy inspirational speakers that was invited to schools when I was younger is all that comfortable, but it is what it is and if it's a chance to help I'll take it.

I spoke with a good friend on the phone tonight and she said she could tell that I had changed. It's hard to say it so simply but you could if you wanted to, say that I'm just more positive. It's more complex than that, but that'll do. I know I've changed but I'm happy to say that I feel like at my core, in most ways, I'm still the same person I was when I started personality wise. I have the same sense of humor and like the same things. This is good for me, as my friend out it, "Skip likes Skip, everybody knows that."

I suppose I can't ask for much more than that, but here I go anyway.

I need help. I want to help as many people as I can and I think that the best way for me to do that is to make the end of this walk as successful as possible. If the end of all this is successful, maybe it will open a door to continue work like this and I welcome anyone who can help me.

Here's what I want: I want to put together a walk, hear me out, a walk to the coast where people can join me on the last day. It would start maybe 13 miles out with places to join at 10 and 5 miles and maybe the 5k mark. The idea is different from that of other walks, instead of being a race or separating the groups, it will be about bringing them together. The walk would start from 13 miles or wherever was reasonable, then as we hit the 10, 5 and 5k marks, the people going these distances would join in. It is not about finishing first, but together as one group. The thing that would be stressed wouldn't be distance, not mine or any participants, but rather the decision to join us and the idea that that can be a changing point in a life no matter when it comes.

So there it is, what I want. I need help, I don't know how to do this and more importantly, even if I did it would be impossible to put together and walk at the same time.

I realize that this would be quick to put something together and that everyone has jobs and lives, so I won't be disappointed if you can't help, or if it doesn't happen at all. I just wanted to put it out there and see what happens, with the additional tag, "What if it did happen?"


Ashley said...

I'm down - that sounds great! Let me know what I can do to help :) I could use an excuse to have an adventure!

Anonymous said...

Hey Skip, this is Free's cousin again. If you want to put together a walk at the end of your walk you have to answer two basic questions... When and Where... you can't have people meet you if you don't know the answer to these two things.

Skip Potts said...

So right Free's Cousin. I'd like to end on the beach at the Santa Monica Pier, the date I'd adjust in order to make things work. Anything after Mid-May is good, but I want it to be an actual event if possible so more than just a date needs to be settled, I need someone who can help set it all up.