Nothing is perfect. But maybe that is not true. Maybe what I see as imperfections are exactly what make something the way it was intended to be.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to walk 12 miles of the 26 mile first day walk of the Avon 39 with Nicki Beglau Black. Houston was a challenge. Raining buckets for the first three hours, it was the muggiest steambath ever for the last five hours. Hundreds of walkers who had raised 2.7 million dollars to fight cancer made their way along flooded and cracked sidewalks (cracked is a misnomer...they looked like a major earthquake hit), braved blisters and hurting parts and heat prostration to show how much they care that others not die of cancer. People walked with names written on their shirts to honor those who have been in the path of cancer. Nicki raised over $33,000 dollars herself, and her team of five came in 6th overall for fund raising.
It was hard for me to admit that I should not do the whole walk when Nicki first told me she was going to do it again. We did it in 2011 but I had multiple injuries before the walk began and could not do that one entirely, either. But I kept telling myself this time that harming my own health doesn't cure any cancer. Nicki had to make that tough decision also, after finishing the 26.2 mile marathon the first day, her knee was so bad that she could not walk the 13 miles on Sunday. It hurt her to admit it, and to let it go. Sometime it takes a lot of courage to surrender. I am proud of Nicki for the hard work and dedication she put into her fund raising and training. I am also proud of her for have the courage to let her team finish in her name.
So, where was the perfection in that weekend? In the success of those who could make the whole 39 mile walk? Yes. In the success of those who raised tens of thousands of dollars? Yes. In the steps of those who quit at the lunch break? Yes. In the hearts of those who had to get on the bus when their bodies gave out? Yes.
Cracked sidewalks. What was once smooth and level has been turned jagged and menacing to those who don't keep their eyes on the path. Upheaval caused by tree roots. Those exact same trees that offer a beautiful canopy of shade to streets and yards. One walker pointed out that if people had been content to make gravel sidewalks those roots would not have caused any trouble. But someone thought in inflexible sidewalks would be better.
Tree roots are messing with my concrete sidewalks, and I am beginning to understand that my definition of perfection is more realistic, more honest and more germane when I see the canopy above me as part and parcel with the gnarly roots. More gravel. Less concrete. More compassion, less judgement. More humility, less control-freak. More open mindedness, less self centeredness. More humor, less hubris.
Today a beautiful 44 year old woman I met on the walk will have her call-back 3-D mammogram. I am convinced that I sat on a blanket with her, cheering as walkers went by, because I could share my story with her. In 2011 I had a call back in the days just before I went to the walk. I was blessed to meet survivors with many different stories to tell. I am praying that Ashley will get good news today. Either no cancer or really early detection like me. When you read her name, I hope you will lift her up with thoughts and prayers for courage. Ashley, wherever you are, the sidewalks are cracked, but the canopy is wide and the shade is enough.