Sue worked for a little known company in the 70’s called Nike. They are a shoe company in case you’ve never heard of them. However, in the 70’s they weren’t the “Nike” they are today.

Sue got a discount, and could get any shoe from the employee store for nearly 50% off. As a kindness to my mother, she would then drive an hour to meet us and present to me the procured Nike’s. Putting on those new sneakers was like I had the wings of Nike strapped to my feet. I imagined myself to be the “Flash” (The pre-WWII version who wore a silver helmet and had white wings on his ankles). I could run faster, jump higher, skipping to the moon itself it would seem; they were my magic sneakers.

I would wait with anticipation for the next day of school, surely my new shoes would elevate my game in kickball! My moves would be ever so swift and elusive that tag would be “a child’s game”. It seems that the very walk to school itself (up hill in the snow both ways of course) would take half the time because of my supernatural shoes!

I never thought I’d feel that way again. It seems no one ever feels about their shoes like they do when they are 7…until yesterday.

Winnie, one of the readers of my ramblings, heard of my dilemma and coordinated to purchase new shoes for me from afar. People are good. Winnie, thank you. Last night, I received a new pair of Nike’s. I haven’t worn them in 20 years, but they seemed to be the “right” ones, and some how appropriate seeing that I am in Oregon.

I can fly again it seems.

Last night, I had to run in the dark for about 7 miles. Scaughdt did the majority of his walking at night. The Peace Pilgrim walked at night sometimes to stay warm. It isn’t an experience I want to repeat much. Giving up on making the beach, I stumbled down the embankment next to a lake and pitched my tent. I was tired, it was dark, and it was as good as spot as any in the dark. When I woke, I found I had camped in Avalon.

After a shower at the local campground, YES!!!, I ate a breakfast of poptarts, blueberry bagels, and peanut butter thanks to my dear friends D. & N. (Again, thank you guys so much for your generosity to me).

Next, I did a watercolor of the lake. I think I finally “understand” watercolor. I don’t think I am great at it yet, but I think I finally understand it. The way you think when you paint it watercolor is so different than any other form of painting. I think it easiest to explain with a sculpture analogy. If, as a sculptor, you have only worked with clay until now, essentially adding more and more clay till you have a piece, it is hard to understand how to work with marble. With marble you start with a block larger than the final piece, something likes within that block and you can only take away to find it. It is sculpture, true, but it subtractive rather than additive sculpture. Painting in watercolor is subtractive painting. You can only take away.

As I said, I’m still not great at it, but I think I “get” it now.

I walked to the beach. My friend Chuck said that he thought that I would be walking a lot more of this trek than running. He has proven to be more prophetic than I would have ever thought. Doing an average of 20-25 miles a day has proven to be a lot harder to run than walk. Water has been an issue on several days as well, and running goes through water 3 times as fast as walking. I know that I will run more later, but right now, I am walking 70% of the day if not more. Did I mention the hills??? But when I got to this long strand of beach, the wind was at my back, the sun to my left, the ocean on my right, and my miracle Nike’s on my feet…the pelicans and seagulls watched ME fly!

It seems that Sea Lions are a permanent part of my life now, since living next to them for 5 years. They welcomed me to the Puget Sound on my first day out. They were there to greet me in the Columbia as I made its shores. Today, I saw the end of one. I found a dead and rotting one on the beach, crumpled up in an uncomfortable position like the driftwood at its side. The skull was nearly completely exposed…tempting to keep. I settled for a sand dollar instead. Never found a whole one before—today I found three.

The last 24 hours I’ve been reminded to be humble. The end of my sea lion friend helped obviously in this regard.

The reason I have so little now, why I have given everything except for what I feel I can use for this trip to serve others, is the very fact that I had so much. Who was I to have so much when others had so little? However, humility in the sight of others kindnesses to me is an important lesson. The universe has been good to me. I haven’t “missed” a meal yet. Food, money, showers, and even shoes have been supplied for me at every turn. It is tempting to be “comfortable” to think that this is the way that others live, to think that this is the way that I will continue to be provided for. Others aren’t so lucky, others do miss meals, and others have never had a pair of shoes let alone new ones when the last ones had “worn-out”. I must be careful. I must not abuse, or become complacent with the kindness and generosity afforded to me by others and by the universe.

And yet, this morning was so exceedingly beautiful, that I can’t helped but feel blessed to witness and document it as best I can. As I sat on the empty beach this morning and meditated on emptiness, compassion, and gratitude, I was reminded “This is it, this is your life. Are you who you want to be?” That phrase has been a rallying cry for me in the preceding months as I attempted to get my “house” in order to begin this pilgrimage. Today, I felt I could answer yes. I am who I want to be. I recognize this is my life, and I am living beautifully and living beautifully. I recognize that today is all I ever had. I recognize that this IS heaven. Paradise is all about us.

As others prepare to rest from their labors this weekend, I feel like my “work” has just begun. Peace to you. This is how I found peace—It all begins with Gratitude: Love, Help, Make Art & Peace.

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