“The more deeply we are our true selves, the less self is in us.” – Meister Eckhart
The sun was still high when I sat atop our cooler in the shade of beech and maple trees in the gravel parking lot at the base of the Bamforth Ridge, road dust settling over all. Here, at the lowest point on the whole Long Trail, I found myself facing a similar low — I’d made the decision to stop the journey north a couple of miles earlier when the pain in my right shin began to grow progressively worse with each step, so announcing it here was just a formality. But having my wife, Jen, and good friends Laura Lea and Alice there helped to make what felt like dropping out a lot easier.
What I didn’t know then, but began to realize the next day, was that this adventure had inspired so many others — not just to join me along the way, but the finish the 85 remaining miles over the following days. From Friday through the following Tuesday, Hannah & Lydia, Andras, Liz, Nick, and Ira each took a section and fairly devoured 20+ mile stretches of rugged trail, sometimes in 90-degree heat…leaving only the last 4 miles to Journey’s End to finish.
It’s hard to express how deeply humbled and profoundly impressed I am with the selflessness, tenacity, and spirit of this community of runners who have made up what has become Team Climate Run.
This entire adventure has been filled to overflowing with the constancy of others — from late-night driveway campsites in Massachusetts to surprise aid-station visits with homemade doughnuts, from endless hours of conversation to keep us moving over, around, and through miles of blowdowns to tailgate pancakes in Appalachian Gap, from Samantha pushing me up and down Killington in a downpour to Jen helping me tape up my shins and take care of blisters to everyone finally shouldering the challenge of completing the Long Trail together. I, too, am so very full of humility and gratitude.
Since finishing the run, I’ve spent much of my recovery time reading — mostly about contemplative practice in the works of Thomas Merton, Eckhart Tolle, Walter Burghardt, Richard Rohr, and Meister Eckhart. Maybe I’ve been looking for solace, or for some answers or direction or maybe the start of another journey. As their words begin to coalesce and ideas take shapes as yet unrefined, I’m moved by the way that all of these writers are able to see through the self into the broader community that makes the individual fully whole.
I can’t help but read in Thomas Merton’s words, “we do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them. . . . we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance,” what I am only starting to recognizing as one of the most rewarding parts of mountain running — not only having and then sharing the experience — but extending it beyond myself to others.
As a father, a coach, a member of a diverse and vibrant running community (and so many other things!), I could hardly ask for more.
Yet, I do . . . if only the continue the momentum we’ve generated and see where this new path might lead.
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