To be remembered. It is not something that ever motivates me nor is something I ever anticipate, but it sure is sweet when it happens. To be remembered - a subtle reminder of our inherent connection.
A gratifying aftermath of having crossed paths with so many people along the walk is the regularity with which exchanges continue to happen through email, snail mail, phone calls, and social media. This should not be surprising since our social relationships top the charts when we weigh in on our values and count our blessings. Like finding that one tepid spot while standing in a frigid ocean, each relationship is to be savored for its warmth, knowing its occupancy is fleeting.
Nearly everything I do evokes memories of people and places I’ve encountered on the walk so perhaps I should not be surprised people's recollections of our encounters are sparked from time to time. I certainly can’t eat a doughnut without a sprinkling of senses swirling through the many layers of my being. Remembrances of people, tree groves, and coffeeshops carry the fullness of a by-gone moment that neither words, pictures, nor stories alone could ever entirely capture.
This past week was no exception to these evolving and unfolding connections – told in three quick stories.
Nomad introduced himself just after BASE jumping 1,500 feet from the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho - one of the few places in the United States where engaging in this extreme sport is legal. When I interviewed him in October of 2018, he offered up some of his life lessons, "Give care when you can and take care when you need it.” He also cautioned us to use our words wisely. For instance, instead of saying “peace out”, it would be more prudent to express this sentiment in reverse: “peace in.”
Ironically, Nomad is Damon spelled backwards. He seemed comfortable with his topsy-turvy, out-of-the-norm lifestyle. (Now that's a notion I can embrace!) A once “Shriner’s kid” as he identified himself, Nomad now challenged his working body to its limits in a holy-crap kind of way. He also openly talked about the challenges that spring from an emotional darkness which, at times, visits upon him. Jumping became his self-constructed therapy.
Writing me soon after our meeting, he asked if I would forward any mention of him along for viewing by his daughter. I have received a few emails from him since, the latest sent this week with an attached article in which he is featured. You can read if here. I am touched that he thought to forward his proud moment to me. I am stunned that he even remembers me. But then again, why should I be?
Nomad, this blog is for your daughter.
Happy Crayola Colors
I didn’t even meet Tucson Jim (as I later dubbed him) on the walk. I met him on May 3rd of this year in Arizona – well over two years after I took my final steps. He attended one of my presentations resulting in a series of emails. I quickly learned how, after my talk on happiness, he reassessed his priorities resulting in a rather dramatic job change. “I've noticed the not so happy moments are way less frequent, and when they do occur and I have no power over them, they are less significant,” he wrote this week. “Thanks for putting the happy color in my crayon box.”
Though Jim is quick to credit me with the positive changes in his life, that is absolutely not the case. How we perceive our lives and the choices we make are ours alone. If someone happens to point out the range of hues in your Crayola box, well that’s just good listening. What Jim doesn't know is just how much happiness his weekly notes lift me up. We all get the blues now and then but mine are painted over with new pigments of friendship via the internet.
Thank you, Tucson Jim and keep coloring your world happy!
In May of 2018, Alan and Sharon Parker hosted me for five glorious days in Olympia, WA. We had lively discussions with dinner guests, toured the beautiful waterfalls in the area, were introduced to many locals, and even experienced a gorgeous full-on rainbow together. Sadly, this week I received a message notifying me of Alan Parker's passing.
As I reveal in my book, I am accustomed to people coming and going in my life. This "going", though, is especially heart-wrenching.
Alan Parker was a proud citizen of the Chippewa Cree Nation who worked tirelessly for the rights of indigenous peoples and their inherent sovereignty. Quite notably, he was the first Native American to serve as Chief Counsel to the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and later served as Staff Director to the Committee. He authored several books, served as faculty at colleges and universities, and established policies, practices, studies, and institutions all of which continue to contribute to the well-being of our country. Alan Parker's achievements are far too numerous to enumerate here.
More importantly, Alan was a kind and generous man. In my view, one whose name is synonymous with service to others. As little as I knew him, I can say Alan carefully crafted his vision through the establishment of authentic relationships, with resolute attention to his values, and with great wisdom and heart. Alan colored all our worlds with warm and happy colors - never to fade, always to be remembered.
Rest in Peace, Alan, knowing you served so many so well. Your legacy elevates us all.