Some of the best gifts are those of opportunity. I’ve written of my friend Scott a couple of times, and perhaps to his embarrassment, I mention him again. Scott is a gymnastics coach with whom I have the highest respect. He coaches not from compulsion but from compassion. Scott works 7 days a week, and charges a pittance for private lessons because he cares for the boys he coaches success more. The opportunity cost takes its toll on Scott and can’t remember his last day off, but he is rewarded by the knowledge that the boys under his charge are well cared for. Scott, Nikki, and Tucker gave me the pleasure of staying with them in San Jose. As an added bonus, Dave, the owner of Cal Sports Gymnastics, allowed me to coach along with Scott and Anton on Wednesday evening.

It was a bitter sweet time. I was delighted by the opportunity and would do it again in a moment. The boys were wonderful and worked hard, but I must admit I wish I could have given as freely to the boys in San Francisco as I was honored in San Jose.

Scott’s only preface to the night was, “Pommels is our worst event right now…so you can do no wrong.” With a month till their first meet, I didn’t think that I could do much, but I endeavored to help as much as possible. The greatest highlight of the night were watching this young man named John, at 17 he is a late comer to the sport of gymnastics. Literally through sweat and blood, John learn an entire routine in one evening. In addition, I was honored to help my host Tucker to hit two D value pommel flops in sequence. I think Tucker surprised himself, because he immediately went to tell Scott of his accomplishment. I was also privileged to work at cleaning up the mounts of 9 other boys. In a word, the night was delightful. The boys had fun…and so did I.

Nikki is a very spiritual woman, and has read extensively upon the concepts of peace, love, and compassion. Scott, Nikki, and I were able to talk late into the night regarding my path as the peace artist…and probably to her chagrin—gymnastics. Nikki and her mother Diana prepared me for the road ahead, and Scott helped me find a safe route over the coastal range…which, unfortunately I didn’t follow right away.

I tried to take Highway 17 to Santa Cruz, but only lasted about a mile before an very initially irate CHP officer pulled me over. I suppose it didn’t help when I answered yes when he asked me if I was prepared to die for my pilgrimage. But, by the end, he understood what I am doing, and gave me a “un-official” police escort as I ran back to the previous road. After that I took the way that Scott suggested, and it turned out to be safe and beautiful however much much longer.

At a bend in the road, I met Brian, John, and John, three fellow wanders on this wet day. Brian works for the National Geological Survey Office. John #1 is retired, but in better shape than 99% of those half his age. Brian is a compassionate and caring man. He was charged with leading a underwater mapping expedition to the arctic circle. Brian communicated with the Inuit subsistence hunters there and reworked the schedule of their ultrasound and sonar probing in order to not infringe or interfere with their whaling activities. In other worlds he made sure his team didn’t use any high frequency sound waves underwater until after the Inuit said it was OK, and the whale migrations had moved on.

Brian, Nikki, and Scott are just further proof of what can be accomplished by people doing what they and only they can do for others in a spirit of peace, love, and compassion. I am honored by their friendship.