Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.
I was half-bent over bracing myself on the granite kitchen counter with giant watery eyes when my husband, Chris, walked in the door last Thursday. “What’s wrong? What happened?” he asked. I couldn’t steady my words. I just let the tears continue to roll down my face while waving three, hand-written checks in my right hand.
I have more than a few weaknesses. I’m stubborn–like really bullheaded. And I’m fiercely independent. I have a tendency to think that I can do everything on my own. This has worked out for me in a couple big instances in life—namely, becoming an entrepreneur and venturing into the world of endurance athleticism. Sometimes I’m able to think of these as strong qualities but they’ve also created difficulty in my life—an inability to fully trust others, self-exhaustion, and undue effort where there could be ease. These qualities have made the words, “I need help” nearly impossible to say.
So, a few weeks ago when we put out the request for help with our ultra-trip project (https://www.gofundme.com/ultratrip) I can honestly say it was one of the most difficult, vulnerable things I had ever done. I felt frozen and almost sick. What if no one responded? What if no one cared? But, I had to let go and ask. This trip literally can’t happen without the help. And I don’t want to do it alone. Having the people in my life involved in this project is what makes it so meaningful.
Then, it started to happen–twenty dollars, one-hundred dollars, a Facebook share, a word of encouragement, an acknowledgment of our mission. It was exactly what I had hoped for and more, WAY MORE. It didn’t matter what the gift was, it only mattered that people were participating. It’s become difficult in a new and beautiful way– the challenge of accepting help, of saying “yes” to being loved and supported.
Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving … Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him [or her] to express his feelings for you.
-Alexander McCall Smith
It took a smile through the tears for Chris to realize I was in the midst of a happy cry. I was holding three checks from people who are on fixed incomes or who are struggling to take care of themselves and here they were supporting us. I can hardly type the words without tearing up.
This process and receiving of extreme kindness is changing me on a deep level. I tend to think of personal growth happening out of hurt, tragedy, regret, pain–essentially the bad stuff of life. But this growth is born of the positive.
In the weeks that have followed, this influx of support, my thought pattern, especially during long training runs, has dramatically shifted. It has moved from, “I want to prepare well, to be strong and ready for the ultra-marathons ahead” into “I want to do this for all of the people who have strengthened and believed in me.” I see their faces. I feel their footsteps alongside of me and I know the journey around the world has already begun in very good company.