Hello friends, colleagues and above all, supporters of this movement! (For history and more information please click here). Also, this quick disclaimer: this post requires editing, 50.4 K was a long walk and I am tired, get back with better writing skills soon :)
For the second year in a row (for other walks/photos please click here), my fabulously social-justice-minded-son and I, walked 50 Kilometres (50.4 actually) on the Trans Canada Trail between Duncan and Lake Cowichan. It was great, it was exhilarating, because a) I got to spend that much time with my all-time favourite human on the planet, and b) I got to do something in an effort to show two people I don’t know, that someone cares, that someone actually gives a damn, and it was a gift and a grind, as always. And it happens in one of my favourite places on the planet, the community I call home, or rather a gorgeous hunk of trail in that community.
The way I see it, I had the privilege of spending a significant amount of time with my awesome (clearly, I am biased) living-in-another-town-adult-child, I got to spend a significant amount of time on the trail that saves my heavily-burdened social-worky-mind-body-and-spirit, a couple/three times a week, and I/we got the opportunity to be of service. win/win, hands down.
There was a bit of drama first thing after we set out in my vehicle to the trail head, I couldn’t find my watch and Kilometer-counter, so we determined (ok my son did) that I must have dropped it in my driveway getting into the car, and had to go back. This put us a little behind the start time I had planned, but really, we knew it was going to take all day, not my/our first Rodeo, so who’s counting minutes…?
It wasn’t possible to have folks at the trail-head in Lake Cowichan to help us re-energize with food and hydration – clean/organic and home-made of course, so we left a cooler full of health and yummy, including really good coffee, in my Trusty steed, Roger the Social-Working Rogue, and set out at 7:30 a.m. to do our first 30 K.
We walked 15-something K out, and turned around and came back to re-plenish, rest a bit, re-juvenate, and engage in trail-warrior first aid. This was my 4th big walk, and every year, my injuries are different. Kind of fits with the rest of my life ;) This year, blisters on my heels, and some unexpected shoulder pain were/are an issue, but I’m tough. That was at 1:39 p.m., and our distance walked at that point was 31.4 K.
Really, I am tough, but carrying 50 k worth of energy drinks, trail mix, fruit, grass-fed beef jerky and other necessities like moleskin Ibuprofen/Tylenol and water), is a bit much to ask, of even this energizer bunny :)
And then we walked back out 9 K, and turned around for the final 9-ish. The final 9-ish was not horrible for the first little while, but coming up on last few-to-go was starting to hurt bad and even though my ManChild and I never lack for full, rewarding, deep, meaningful, and often uproariously funny topics of conversation, we got quiet. We got back to Roger at 6:27 p.m., and had 50.4 Kilometers on the counter. 11 hours, with 10 of full-on (power) walking, the other hour included our almost 30 minute hydration/food/first aid break, and many, many quick moments of first aid and rock-out-of-shoe-dumpings. There was never any doubt that we would finish, we are not only determined, we are somewhat stubborn, but more than anything else, the why of what we were doing out there, makes the physical discomfort (during and after ;) quite bearable.
Which begs the question, one that is often asked; why don’t I/we just give to charities like everyone else, and get a tax write off? The answer is simple: I/we are not like everyone else. Ever. In most things we do, many of the ways in which we live life, and in what we believe to be the truth about life, the state of the world, and by direct extension, the human experience. And don’t assume, please, that I have created a clone named T.G.R.T.. I have not. I have taught him how to think, not what to think. It shows, and I do not feel ego-maniacal making that statement, I am grateful for all of the hard work I have, and continue to put in, as a parent first, and then, sometimes, a friend-type person. And I have never been afraid to have him pissed off at me, I don’t like it, but it never stopped me from setting what I believe(d) to be the good example, the appropriate boundary, and sometimes, just plain old laying down the parental law. Always, in his best interest, which to me means teaching him the skills to understand the world, and how to deal when life gets life-y, not bubble-wrapping him from it, not dumping my experiences of, and responses to it, all over him. Again, it shows. But I digress, how unusual for me…
Back to the why: I have experienced human struggle of every ilk and variety, and when I hit the wall running (out of steam) almost 20 years ago, there was support available to me. It came from various human serving agencies including those funded by Government at the time, from some members of my immediate family, from grass-roots movements with which I continue to engage to this day, but the single biggest difference between me breathing another day and taking myself off the planet, was the respect and dignity two professionals saw fit to treat me with. They, unknowingly, also had a great deal of influence on why I chose Social Work over Law when I began rebuilding myself, again, at a stage in life when most folks are looking forward to retiring in a decade or two.
The only reason I have become the ‘success’ and (hated, to me) poster-child of comebacks, is because those two people cared enough, to look beyond the outwardly apparent struggle(s), to get to know something about how I got there, who I am, my strengths, my shortcomings, and they saw, that in order to help me get back up, I would need the resources (of every ilk and variety), with which to stay standing. I am a keener, I took their outstreched hands, and have not looked back. See that streak of energy-love-compassion-brain-and-gratitude? That be me, and now, my kid. (For the stories, as told by them, of this year’s walk-donation-recipients, please click here).
Again, back to the why: The very systems and resources and sadly, some of the humans in them, that were once designed to do exactly what I described above, provide a compassionate, context-seeing hand up, are failing all of us. I worked in the non-profits for many years, Government funded and Grassroots, in various capacities and levels of service, and in or around the systems that are meant to help people when life happens, like Income Assistance, Health Care, Housing, (dis)Ability). These are life issues, and even at their perceived and most violently hated, debated and judged worst (i.e. mental health, addictions and the like), still, are not personal or moral deficiencies (for more on that please click here and here), they are, life issues, they have a context, and we are all culpable in it. It is not ok to be globally connected, hiding behind our screens sharing internet memes about ‘Activist Actions’ (don’t even get me going on that), and watching our community members flail, while blaming them for their own misery, whatever shape and/or hideous form it happens to take. Yes, they/we need to own our part, remedy the parts we can, but I personally, and my son, and all of the folks who donated their time and money to us and our recipients, are not smoke and mirror activists, we walk, passionately, and with enthusiasm and love, many many talks, in this case, literally. And we don’t give a hoot (anymore) whether some folks like, or even hate it.
So, we do it because 50 K on a trail, some time and love intensive work on a campaign, some physical discomfort for a few days, lost income for a few days, is beyond worth knowing that the money, time and energy, mine, my sons, and everyone else who has contributed in any meaningful way, is going directly where it is needed most. To some humans who need it most, now, and get to spend it in the best way possible; based on what they need. Not on what we, think they need, or worse, think they deserve.
The most interesting and disturbing observation, piece of fodder for my next rant on this blog, is the following: the folks who can least afford to extend themselves financially, expend time and/or physical energy, extended themselves the most. The folks who are the most blessed in these capacities, the least. No harm no foul though, I’ll take anyone’s money for our Walk of Love, because that, is really and truly what it is all about. Love is everything.
That then, is why. Clear? Great. Peace. And thank you. Truly, from the bottom of our massive, well-lit hearts.
~Marcela & T.G.R.T.
PS: It is never too late to donate:
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