"There is peace in the desert, if you have it within." -- Lisa Bliss
As I write this, there are three days, fifteen hours, and three minutes until the start of my Death Valley to Mt. Whitney crossing. Various things are running through my mind. Some are positive thoughts, and some thoughts that are not so positive. Right now I am feeling confident. I need and will keep that feeling, in spite of an overall sense of nervousness and anticipation.
Playing next to me is the video Running on the Sun, a documentary on the Badwater 135 race that covers the same course I will be following. It serves as a bit of a reminder to not get overconfident, and that this thing I am about to do is hard, very hard.
I have thought about things I might do to get a better response to my fundraising. I must admit to being a little disappointed. Yet, times are difficult and it is hard for many to give. I am truly thankful to those who have. I will think about that, too.
For some reason, I was thinking last night about my “Bucket List,” that list of things I want to do before I die. It is funny, really, because I do not have a Bucket List. I have always just done the things I want to do. Putting them on a list just seems like a way of putting it off, never to be done. Yet, there are two things I want. The first is to properly learn to play the electric guitar. I once played the clarinet. I was pretty good. But, I am a rocker at heart, so I lost connection with the clarinet. One day soon, I want to pick up my Stratocaster and play Ventures music (yes, that would be the dreaded surf music), a little bit of metal, and do it as if the thing were part of me.
I want, really want, to one day never know another person sick or dead from cancer.
I also have a wish. I wish one day I can say a real and final good-bye to my late brother Rick. I will never stop missing him. I wish I could do this other thing so that I could look at his kids and see them for who they are, and not see Rick and what he missed. I wish my niece and nephew could be that and only that.
I want to move to somewhere quiet and open, where the roads never end and the cars are few. I would like that a lot.
That’s about it, really. I once wanted to jump out of an airplane (with a parachute, duh!) so that I could experience flying. But, I found flying in my running. There are some things I would very much like to do, but would be OK if I don’t. I would like to once drive a car I have built beyond 200 mph. That seems like it would be fun. Like a lot of people, I would like to travel some more. But, I have been lucky and have traveled a lot already
OK, that was more thoughtful than I was expecting…
Mostly what I think about, as I glance over at Running on the Sun, is that I want to get on the road. That is the place I should be. Last year, in Death Valley, I found my home – the place I belong. Yet, the lyrics to the theme song of the movie "The Wrestler" by Bruce Springsteen say a real truth:
“These things that have comforted me, I drive away
This place that is my home, I cannot stay
My only faith’s in the broken bones and bruises I display”
As Lisa Bliss wrote to me the other day, “There is peace in the desert, if you have it within.” I am so proud to be following in her footsteps. Her great effort still sends chills through me. My adventure will be different, yet in many ways the same.
On Monday, Rick’s birthday, I will find out if I can cover the course once again. But, if I make it one mile, or 135 miles, in the end it does not matter. I will have tried my very best. There is no failure in that. What I will have, no matter what, is the journey I have already taken to get to the starting line. That road has been filled with potholes and has been perilous at times, but all worth it.
When I take that first step on Monday morning, I will be stepping into a new unknown. How exciting is that?!
OK, enough ruminations before the ruination.
"I cannot say where this might end. Yes, it is uncertain. Why should that stop me from continuing to do this thing? This thing I do is hard - it challenges every muscle, bone, and brain cell I have. Few have dared to tread where I go. Few have faced the challenges that have been placed before me. That, in and of itself, makes it worthwhile to keep going."
- Badwater Bill - Near Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley, CA, August 2010