Monday, August 24, 2015

Things I'd Never Thunk Before

I've loved long the Wizard of Oz but somehow it didn't occur to me till the day before I headed to Kansas City to make that organic media connection. In the first team I put together after brain surgery about 8 months for an ultimate tournament, we went costumed as characters from that movie with me taking the scarecrow, the missing brain jokes already well set in place. Still, it felt incredibly right to be coming to do a race in Kansas which was the launching spot of Head for the Cure. I've done it all 3 years they've come to Austin and so somehow it felt right to meet up in each other's home. It's a bit amusing that the night before the race I was up due a tornado watch/warning both brought awake and mesmerized by watching lighting. 

But  I've kept calling my teams for races, the scarecrows. There were some lines that stood out to me that are entirely self applicable like when that cute redhead comes crashing some things down with conviction into the picture, bringing color into a scene in a way unexperienced before. She frees the scarecrow from a mess he's gotten himself into for lack of that brain and he is her first companion on a new road. A tinman looking for a heart and a lion looking for some courage round out a fantastic crew.

The dialogue between these characters captures some part of this journey, my own road, even if I've never quite caught up
to the yellow bricks. A cursory reading of this or perhaps a simple conversation with me answers the question that redhead asks the scarecrow of how he can talk if he hasn't got a brain when he replies "Oh some people without brains do an awful lot of talking."

That scarecrow would ask for brains instead of a heart for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one. The woodman thinks the heart is better since it and not the brain is what makes one happy. There is of course the reality that hearts will never be practical until they are unbreakable but there are parts of life where practicality is much over rated. That dance between the brain and heart hasn't been settled by much of humanity ever but there's a line about the interplay of the two that I always grasp a little better at these events, "a heart is not judged by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others."

As I helped with packet pick up, I watched teams take pictures in memory of, in honor of, I got a few more details about the founder of CEO whose been doing this for 13 years because his brother passed away from brain cancer. There is no way both my damaged brain and breakable heart couldn't absorb that the thousands of people who were here raising the better part of half a
million for brain cancer research, this is why we fight, why we do this events so that putting one foot in front of the other, we keep trying to defeat brain cancer step by step. For those us that aren't great at math that meant that's about $100 for every participant to as is their logo step by step. It was a humbling experience to see thousands of people taking thousands of steps. That 4 letter word that often goes through my mind, hope came shining through knowing that brain cancer has got quite the crowd to take on. The demons of brain cancers can only win for so long against these type of angels. 

To see a race like that where people find the balance of smiling and crying over a disease that made judge exactly how much they love those affected. The shirts, the signs, the tears, the hugs, whether they be in honor of, in memory of or besides those affected shows while this may be a rare cancer, it's affected some very special people in a very random meaningless way. But the people who fight back show exactly how much those affected mean period but especially to them. 

There were individuals there who I met that remind you that some people's paths are very different and difficult in their own way. There was a woman who was a mother of 5 facing her own diagnosis. She was there every moment of packet pick up and helping set up long before the crack of dawn. There were also moments of hope, a new technology that wasn't
around back when I had it that is being picked up in more places of a lot less "invasive" brain surgery with MRI's that are active through machines and people go home in less time, with less drugs. Both the technology and that it was lit up in emerald green skull brought a big smile to my face. 

When race time finally came, I got to do it with the double nervousness of having spoken immediately before and then getting up to the start line. I gunned out too fast for the 1st mile toned it down in the second and sped up in the 3rd. I would take 4th over all. I'd missed stopping my watch by a few seconds but I knew it was going to be close to my fastest 5k, certainly my fastest in almost a year. Even a guy with a damaged memory recalled that back in March of this year, both of my parents and Kiana had all gotten their fastest 5k ever and all placed in their age group at the Head for the Cure in Austin, when they'd been kind enough to extend their mission well beyond their hometown to mine. Now as I got to be in theirs, it would turn out that I'd be 1st in my age group and get my fastest 5k ever at 17.35, one second faster than any I'd done before. I'd done that course next to Kiana and then we'd gone back and finished with my parents. I was in Kansas without them or was I, some rainbow had to connect us because we all now have our PR's in my mind, or at least in my heart, on the same course. 

While I'm back at the  place called home, no place like it, and not in Kansas anymore, like the cute redhead who thought chasing wild adventures might be worth but eventually realized everything she was looking for was right in her backyard, I keep being grateful for the travels with and to some great company. When you're on these epic rides you wonder and hope they'll never end but realize that even if they only go for a chapter or two, you realize you aren't and shouldn't be capable of shutting down some of the emotions that come with goodbye. Still the trips, the chapters are unforgettable and perhaps that's one way to have the courage to grasp forever with your heart and mind. And that is exactly why and how I hope we keep heading for the cure. 

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