Doesn’t he just make you smile, this one?
This is the Finishing Line Gorilla which I was really happy to see after going 42 miles in two days, which was really supposed to be 39 miles, except I kind of got side-tracked at Mile Marker 24 leading several people behind me a half mile in the wrong direction. Whoops. In my defense, the sign was a little askew and my eyes were crossed at that point.
My friend Kevin sent me a classic text response to this photo:
“Finish Line Gorilla! It would be nice to have more Gorillas in our lives, high-fiving our daily accomplishments. Car Pool Gorilla. Bill Paying Gorilla. Laundry Gorilla. And all should sport that fetching pink bikini.”
I love that, because it’s soooo true! The atmosphere at this Walk showed the potential of that. What could each of us accomplish if we just accepted the fact we are fully supported by the Universe…and wouldn’t that be cool if there was a physical manifestation of that support sporting a hug and a pink bikini?
Over the course of the weekend, the support for each other, and community, and philanthropy, and friendship, and gorilla hugs–it extended into the bars, and restaurants, and hotels. People helping people. A dynamic group of change agents. People coming together to make something happen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more community in any one place and all I kept thinking was how connected we are to each other and how that is what will change the world. Our pure humanity.
All along the journey parents brought their children out to show them the idea of supporting others. They doled out lemonade, Gatorade, tootsie rolls, hugs, high fives all along the way. Older kids, like the San Francisco Youth Group, waited at the top of every hill (and there were lots!) to cheer on walkers. Tons of community volunteers rode motorcycles, music vans, sweeper vans, and bikes to help walkers along, mentally and physically. The San Jose Police Department rode alongside us on bikes, cheering, chatting, playing awesome tunes and just being all-around human. They were so fun. Here’s Sargent Andrew and one of his fellow officers doing his fancy pose with me and my sister-in-law, Susan, helping.
Then there were the amazing walkers. We met Michelle from Redwood City, who tore her meniscus during training but was still trying to do as much as she could. We met Kim from San Francisco who has done the walk every year since it started by herself and who told me everything I could ever want to know about shopping on Ebay or Craigslist. (Man, did she know her stuff on that.) We met 21-year old Gina who found a lump in her breast and was told she’d need to remove them both. She didn’t, but she had a subsequent scare, and the jury is out on the verdict. There was 75-year-old Peggy who I met on Mile 25 Day 1. She had always wanted to do this and finally did it by herself because she couldn’t recruit anybody, hobbling along the whole way, but crossing that finish line. And there was the guy who walked the whole way ON CRUTCHES!
Then there were the laughs, like when the woman at mile marker 22 dropped her cell phone into the outhouse toilet. Her friends were laughing anyway. I’m not sure she was laughing.
Or at the various theme stops. Here’s one of my faves.
The beauty of the landscape was unparalleled. I’ve been to San Francisco many times over the past 49 years, but I never experienced it like this. Walking through China town, the financial district, North Beach, Crissy Field, across the Golden Gate, down into Sausalito, up through Larkspur, landing in Corte Madera–what an amazing cross section of land. The weather was perfect, though the weekend before it rained which left the sky Sedona blue. There were hundreds of sail boats and sea lions below the Bridge. I saw a hawk close up that seemed to be cheering on walkers. I saw a flock of white Egrets living in the marshlands of Marin. We met a dog walker and 8 lovely dogs who asked us if we wanted to pose with the dogs.
Between me and Susan enthusiastically blasting the newsfeed with Walk shots, I’m pretty sure there’s somebody out there who blocked me. But we couldn’t help ourselves. It was such connection–such possibility–we wanted to share. This sums it up.
In the end, Susan and I met our collective goal–exceeded it, actually. Together we raised over $5,300, which beat our goal of $5,000. I’d flippantly thrown out the figure because $1,800 each seemed so high. Run into the fire kind of thing. Together, everybody in San Francisco raised $4.6 million toward low income intervention, research, and other support services. That’s just one city.
This even taught me so many things. One of my big takeaways: I’m grateful to be in a profession where I can be a Finishing Line Gorilla for other people. I’m thinking I might even get a suit.