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“If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
—Barry Lopez
(as Badger, in Crow and Weasel)


To be nobody but yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
- e. e. cummings


The Endless Race

------One of my heroes in life is a man named Evaristo Vela. Evaristo is well known in my town, though few know him by name. Some know him only by his nickname, Peewee. Almost none of them have ever attempted to carry on a conversation with him. They've not offered him a handshake as his grip is frail and his arms don't always go where he intends. They've not heard his name; only the grunts and moans; his only means of communication. Evaristo is a brilliant man with a loving heart and a glorious soul. But this beautiful human being is trapped inside a body stricken by Cerebral Palsy.
------Evaristo can be seen most any day making his way around the town on foot. I wouldn't exactly call it walking, for his stride is haphazard at best. Each movement is indeed an effort.
------One sunny summer morning I was seated among the half-asleep contented congregation at my church listening to the Sunday sermon. The preacher began to illustrate her point by reminding the crowd of the story of an Olympic athlete who had recently been in the news for his gallant effort at the end of a race. He had seen his dream of Olympic glory end suddenly as he pulled a muscle very early in the race. As he hobbled toward the finish line his only thought was to finish the quest he had started long ago. Joining him on the track was his father who had been allowed unauthorized passage onto the track to help his son cross the finish line. The image of the two men crossing the finish line was cast on television screens and newsprint all across the globe. The father had started the journey with his son and was bound and determined to be there to see it to the end; albeit an ending far short of their shared vision.
------As the preacher told the story, I felt my complacency charged a bit by the image of the track star in my mind. My senses were awakened in a most profound manner by the sounds I heard emanating from the pews. With each sentence, Evaristo let out an encouraging grunt. As the story progressed, his voice rose in intensity. No words were distinguishable, but words were not necessary. It occurred to me that Evaristo's voice was the voice of empathy. He runs this same race every day of his life. Every step he takes is one step closer to that cherished finish line and he is determined that nothing will keep him from it. I could hear in his voice the sentiment of encouragement as if to tell us - the able bodied - to wake up and run the race as swiftly and gracefully as we can.
------I felt a chill all over my body as tears filled my eyes. The story of the runner was real in my mind, but now Evaristo had brought it to heart. I realized I had little rationale to justify apathy by labeling the hurdles that stood in my way. I realized I couldn't allow with any integrity a slackening of pace when encountering speed bumps while there are those out there climbing mountains.

© 2004 The Trill House