This is the second part of Maggie's story. Check the first one here.
I was supposed to meet these people and these communities. I was supposed to learn about them and from them. I was supposed to be the person on the other side of the adventure. I’ve heard people say, and often I’ve stolen, the phrase “the best way to learn a place is by running it.” So that’s what I’m doing. Running, more than driving and certainly more than flying, allows you to truly sense the space you’re in and connect it to the space within you. You can hear, smell, and see your surroundings – the good and bad. You have time to process and think about what’s going on around you as much as what’s going on inside you. That’s my search for America.
Now, what to call it? If naming a child was anything as hard as naming this event (and the non-profit behind it) I’d like to apologize to any progeny of mine in advance. I wanted something that was short and sweet (and had an unclaimed domain name), but that encompassed what I was trying to do and how I felt about the adventure. Becca and I tossed around ideas of something in a foreign language, perhaps a native language? We thought about naming it after someone. We thought about alliteration and the appeal of the hard k. We thought we could incorporate my name. Then I remember reading a story about Rick and Dick Hoyt – a duo team in which the father (Dick) pushes the son (Rick) in a specialized racing chair in road races, bike races, and even Ironmans. In the book Dick recounts the conversation with Rick after their first race. Rick told his dad that when he was in the chair, he didn’t feel like he had a disability. He felt free, and even called himself “free bird.”
That’s it. That’s how I feel. I’ve never spent a day in a wheelchair. I’ve always been able to use my legs and arms. I’ve always been able to speak what’s on my mind (to the chagrin of some). But Rick nailed it. I felt free when I ran, too. I felt physically free. I could go anywhere as long as I had my two legs. I didn’t need a car or bike. I can turn left or right. I can keep going or turn around short. Most of the time I’m not even limited by distance or location. I’m not running to get somewhere, I’m just running.
I feel free, or maybe freer, emotionally and spiritually too. I feel like I can meet my demons one by one and move past them. I feel like I can strip off my insecurities, my obligations, my worries. I’m free from all that. All I have to do is breathe in, breathe out, left foot, right foot, drink water, and eat food. How simple is that?
I feel that same freedom in my communities. Communities help free some of that baggage, too; some of that responsibility. Communities help free me from isolation and all the problems that come with it. Again, I’m not sure why it’s there, but I feel the connection between running, community, and freedom. Thus, Run Free was born.
So that’s the origin story, because “I loved Forrest Gump” seems like too much of a cliché.