I need to catch up with what’s happening. I absolutely LOVE where all this is going. I feel like I’m “getting it.” I can see what we need to do to turn this country around…as in what we CAN do, but I don’t want to jump to the closing chapter until I’ve experienced the whole book. Who knows what else will emerge? I’m only six days into 31!
August 4th: I am in Williamsport, PA. I wake to a brilliant sunrise, crisp air. Have some coffee and head out for a run along the Susquehanna River. I carry my Ipod, but don’t use it. I hear instead.
Turn around to go home and there it is. The feather rests gently on the middle of the path that I covered only moments ago. I smile. And feel safe.
I decide to sit for a while rather than head straight to my hotel room. There is an indoor pool and I make myself comfortable on a step leading from an elevated sitting area down to the water’s edge.
She comes in carrying a mop the size of my kitchen, a yellow bucket on wheels and a spirit that just called out for connection.
I watch her mopping the floor. The wet thick yarn tendrils move to and fro…requires a great deal of effort for a small woman.
I walk over to her.
“Can I ask you a few questions?”
“Sure,” she says.
I notice that she actually stops what she is doing and leans the mop up against the wall.
“I’m traveling the country talking with people about our nation’s leadership. What do you think is happening here?”
She looks off for a moment and then says with a boldness that surprises me.
I say nothing.
“Wages. You see, people have to decide between work and not working. If we don’t pay people more money than welfare provides, they aren’t gonna work. They just aren’t. It’s human nature.”
I just listen.
“I see them. The young people. Selling drugs instead of working. It's human nature you see. We're just all trying to make it.” She looks off and shakes her head.
“I’ve worked my whole life. I raised my boys on my own. I’ve had problems, but I’ve done the best I could.”
She lowers her head and then looks back up to me. “All they want…really all people want…is to be seen, heard, loved.”
We stand there for what feels like an eternity…and talk…and as I write to you now I want to cry and shout and stomp my feet and listen and love and hold this beautiful woman and tell her….I see you. I see you. I SEE you.
I talk about my own children and how I’ve raised them on my own and how I, too, have struggled at times to be in what feels like two places at one time. Early on, just trying to make a go of it…and stay available to them.
We talk about our health. We are the exact same age. We both have a small nose piercing…we laugh about that. We talk about our joy…our kids. And the heartache that goes along with that.
I ask Doray if I can take a picture with her. She says yes…so I run back to my room and grab my phone.
We pause…smile and click.
I’m headed to Rochester, New York today. I stop at a Starbucks. I am in line when Dave steps up behind me. I know this because his name is on his shirt.
I point to one of the new energizer drinks at the counter, “Ever had one of these?” I ask.
He smiles a bright smile and says, “No. I’m a coffee guy.”
I order my Pike’s blend, black…and begin to pay for it.
“I got this,” he says.
We walk outside together.
“Can I ask you a few questions?”
“Sure,” he grins.
“So, I’m traveling around the country talking to people about political leadership.” What do you think is going on here?”
He thought for a minute before speaking.
“I’ve worked ever since I was thirteen years old. My grandfather worked in the coal mines here in Pennsylvania.” He gestures to his right. “Right up the road back when they carried canaries in. My father worked in the logging industry. I’ve worked with my hands my whole life, but now that I’m 45 years old, I drive a truck.”
“I was raised to work. Not everybody appreciates work the way the men in my family do."
I listen to his words. I can sense he is angry. I remember Doray's words...and can see that this man is no exception. So I listen, see, love from a deep soulful and connected space.
He talks and talks and talks. Becomes more animated with each word. He talks about Amendments 1, 2, 5 and 21, his mom, his fellow-truck-drivers, his community and how much he loves the outdoors...the beautiful Pennsylvania woods and mountains and the fresh air.
“Do you have kids?”
“Yep,” he smiles that smile again. “A daughter and a son.”
“Tell me about them.”
“My daughter just finishing nursing school and works in the emergency room at our local hospital. My boy is younger.”
I can tell he has more to say, so I smile. He looks at me and is a bit startled I think by what seems to be occurring here.
A smile, a pause and click.
“I’ll never forget that day.” My son and a friend of his were coming back from fishing. It was the summer. They were coming back about 10 at night. They were pulling out of a Sheetz convenience store and didn’t see the car. It T-boned them. My son was in the passenger seat. He was in the hospital for three months. They weren’t sure whether he was going to make it.”
He lowers his head. I see his lip quiver.
“He is okay now, but it’s been hard.”
There is a long, long pause. My heart pours out all over the table there at the Starbucks and I want to let Dave know that it’s all gonna be okay.
We smile at each other.
“Nice meetin’ ya,” he says as he pushes his chair back from the table and heads over to his truck.
“Same here, Dave.”
I arrive in Rochester later that day. Molly Harrigan Huff and her hubby Kevin greet me. I know it is Molly’s house because of all the stickers on the car in her driveway. You see, Molly is a real-life 21st century hippie. She’s just returned from “Gathering of the Vibes”, a music festival in Connecticut. She went with her 20-something year old daughter and her daughter’s friend. Molly is just that kind of person. You feel so bubbly warm and awesomelicious when you are with her.
Kevin is the same. Beard, long pony tail, shirtless. He hugs me. “We’ve been waiting for you!!”
Their house is somewhere I wanna be. Kevin tinkers with old stuff…loves to refurbish old things, cars, snowmobiles…stuff. It feels homey. They've been married for 30 years. Two kids, both grown. That night I would sleep in their son's "old bedroom"
We talk awhile and then head to Molly’s brand new yoga studio for our Red Boot Gathering. About ten brave folks show up.
And here is where I want to sugar coat it and keep all uplifted and joyful…but I gotta tell you…this wasn’t how it went. People are angry. I mean really angry, hurt and frustrated with what’s going on in leadership….and sometimes it’s really hard to see outside all that hurt.
Anger is not a space I typically dwell in and have to be honest don’t LIKE to dwell in but the folks around the circle had a lot to say and so they did.
We eventually got around to something’s gotta be done. We brainstormed a few ideas.
We all bid our farewells. Hugs, shaking hands…smiles.
Funny. Whatever it is we need...I think we’re doing it.
I set out on a run. Molly (Huff) sends me on a route toward the Erie Canal. The sun is bright and beautiful…the air crisp. I run ½ mile and then see the walkway down to the canal.
Little known fact to people…but I am terrified of heights. I mean terrified and in order for me to get down to the water’s edge, I’m going to have to descend a ramp that is, from my perspective, steep and high, scary.
I run down it.
The Erie Canal is beautiful. Quiet waters. It is flat. It is still. It is peaceful. I see it there on my way back. The feather. I stop, put my hands to my forehand and laugh a deep and loud laugh from my belly.
Why oh why do I ever doubt?
Posted on August 6, 2014