Tasting Life Twice

Archive for the category “Border Crossings”

Scenes from the Reservation

Last week a group of us worked on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  We were hosted by Re-member who organizes a service outreach to the Lakota Nation.  For fourteen years, Re-member has been hosting groups in an intensive cultural immersion program.  We learned the stories of the Lakota people and did various work projects throughout the week.  We built bunk beds and outhouses and skirted a trailer with plywood.  Here are some pictures from that trip and some stories of our experience.

Going Places

I love hearing stories of people going places, seeing the world, leaving behind their comfort zone, vagabonding. 

At an afternoon Easter party yesterday, I met a man from Dallas, Texas.  He was in his mid to late seventies and visiting his son and family.  He had worked for Texas Instruments for a number of years before retiring ten years ago.  I asked him if he had gone into his retirement with hobbies or if he had to find some.  He said it took him about a year and a half to get adjusted to the life of a retiree but he eventually he did.  He got serious about cycling.

He went decades without riding a bike and then when he was 50, he bought a Huffy bicycle at Target for $69.  He rode it three miles and he thought he was going to fall over and faint.  A quarter of a century later, and with a much better bike, he now rides three thousand miles a year. 

He has made two long trips.  He once cycled from Lawrence, Kansas to Omaha, Nebraska, east across Iowa, south to St. Louis, before returning west across Missouri.  And a few years ago, he rode his bike from Prague, Czech Republic to Budapest, Hungary.  Pretty impressive for a man in his seventies.  And get this – he’s not done.  As if wanting to be out of earshot of his son and daughter-in-law, he quietly told me he has two more trips he wants to make.  He wants to ride from the Twin Cities in Minnesota along the Mississippi River down to New Orleans.  And then, if his health holds up, he wants to make a coast-to-coast trip in America. 

“There’s just some things you can only see while riding a bicycle.  You know, you drive a car around all the time and you miss so much of what is going on.”

I asked him if he was probably in better shape now than when he was in his fifties and he said, “Oh, yes.  I ride primarily for two reasons.  I ride for myself, to take care of my health.  But I also ride for my grandchildren.  I want to live to see them grow up.”

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imageHis “bucket list” bravado reminded me of another such story.  A few weeks ago, the news told of an 85 year old man who, since childhood, had wanted to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a raft.  Years later, the man made the trip.  He had received a settlement from a car accident and with the money he decided to construct a raft out of pipe.  He posted an advertisement and found other volunteer crew members to make the voyage with him.  His fellow sailors were also in their golden years.  Together, they journeyed for two months, from the Canary Islands to a Caribbean island in a trip that spanned 2,800 miles at sea.

I love this quote:

“Some people say it was mad,” Anthony Smith told the Associated Press. “But it wasn’t mad. What else do you do when you get on in years?”

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And then there was this travel story.  A guy paid a New York cabbie $5,000 for a taxi ride from New York to Los Angeles.  The trip lasted six days and covered 3,000 miles.  Why did the passenger want to  do it?Well, the man wanted to pay tribute to his father who had been a cab driver.  And he also wanted to see the territory and, perhaps, market his story to Hollywood. 

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Jumping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Yesterday I had an interesting chat with an Army paratrooper from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  The 26 year old soldier from Baltimore, Maryland was setting up a target on the street for his crew members who would be making the jump at the Memorial Day parade.  In order to make a jump into a tight place, you have to log 500 jumps.  He had 317 and was hoping to be at 500 by this time next year.  He said it took about 250 jumps before he was no longer nervous.  The highest he has dropped is from 17,100 feet, a fall that takes about 87 seconds.  The most jumps he has made in a day is around 30.  We talked about comfort zones, threshold anxiety and the mental preparations required for combat (he has served one year tours in Afghanistan and Iraq) and jumping out of a plane. 

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