Our first Roll For Peace was pretty brutal. The original plan of having people meet us as we rolled so we could record their messages of peace, and actually all the plans pretty much went out the window with the first drops of rain.
In my mind I visualized a bright sunny day. 112 miles isn’t exactly a stroll in the park, but it wasn’t like we hadn’t done it before. I even beat the alarm up at 4am, so that I could make sure to go through the checklist again. Make sure we have it all, and what we forgot, well we would just push without it. Batteries were charged, equipment had been tested, even the bearings got a good cleaning.
At 4am another part of the unraveling was already presenting itself. The Push Scouts have this twisted wish of skating in a thunderstorm. You know full-bore lightning, thunder, rain…even hard rain. Why? I don’t know, just something to experience. Another factor to overcome. A challenge, and a reaffirmation of our “dedication.” Boy, did we get our wish, although, it wasn’t exactly the right time, nor a part of the plan, we geared up anyways.
Rain had been falling all night. The small rhythm of big rain drops, with accents of lightning flashes, and a thunderous chorus made up the evenings fall asleep tune. When the 5am start came around we thought it had moved on. The rain at least had eased up. Lightning was still flashing across the sky, with the thunder giving away the storms position. Travis and I thought we had gotten lucky. All the flashy, not as much of the splashy! Perfect.
That only lasted a couple blocks, when the rain started coming down again. No big deal, we had skated this section in the rain before. We had not, however, skated through the sketchiest section while lightning and thunder played havoc with our hearing and night vision. We skate a section of the trail…that may or may not be closed down due to safety concerns. This always makes for an exciting time, but now we were super in the dark, super freaky lightning lighting, and ominous rolling thunder. Luckily for us, no one else decided to hang out in a lightning storm to murder people. That section is a weird Bermuda Triangle thing with time too, and it did not disappoint. So bizarre.
As we skated our silly hind ends to the Indian Creek Trail the theme of the day presented itself in conversation.
“Sometimes, Peace ain’t easy.”
We chuckled at this thought, as we slapped our water loaded shoes to the ground, slipped, pushed, and rolled to repeat the steps again and again.
When we made it to the trail we had only lost 10 to 15 minutes compared to what we usually do that section in, so we were hopeful that we could make up the time on familiar ground. The ICT had another plan. A mile in we were presented with a challenge that I hadn’t come across yet. It was only 6:30 in the morning, rain was still coming down. Thunder and lightning had suggested that it was farther away now than when we started. Still no light from the sunrise that was supposed to be going on, so we just went along by the reflected light of the sidewalk from the surrounding city. Then in the midst of a kick to begin a slippery push our boards shot sideways.
“What the heck?”
We couldn’t even see it on top of the sidewalk. Mud. A fine thick layer of the stuff. Silty mud, like from the bottom of a river or some such. It was coated on the trail. This made pushing tricky, as soon as you weighted your board to kick off the momentum brought the wheels onto the top of the silt and water layer giving us a slip. Really though, the silt, stealth mud should have been the warning we heeded.
As we pushed along we came to the Indian Creek. I have seen it pretty high before. I have seen it really low before, but I was not ready for a raging muddy mass of water mere feet from the edges of the trail. It got worse as we traveled west. Most of the sections of the trail that went under bridges were also under water. Mud puddles were mini ponds, and no amount of pace or rhythm could be attained. The constant slip of our shoes on the slimy ground haunted and hampered us. Combined with the raging waters, and the constant rain we were one act of God away from a flash flood that I am not sure we would have gotten out of. It was gnarly for sure.
By the time we had gotten to Hampton Park on the Kansas end of the ICT it was one and a half hours over par, a soupy early afternoon fog that further coated everything in water had set in, and we were exhausted.
The math didn’t look good. Time wise we should have been at the half way point and on the way back. Slapping tons of high fives and recording what I had imagined would be an epic volume of peaceful wishes and thoughts. The lateness of the push combined with the looming weather should have made the decision easier, but I still lamented at giving up.
Peace Ain’t Easy.
There are things inherently built into the world that make the attaining of peace difficult. Our own human condition limits our perception to the grey matter in between our ears. We can only see, hear, and feel that which is around us. Our experiences together aren’t even a guaranteed common ground for us to rally around as each of our own perceptions tint the window we look at the world through. The words we use are so limited that there is very little one can do to accurately communicate the view points that make up our reality. Differences in opinion, miscommunication, lack of compassion, and the list goes on and on of all the reasons that make peace a challenge to attain.
The 37 miles that we managed to get in, paralleled the journey of peace perfectly. There was every element right in front of us, around us, under us, and in between us that told us this was going to be way harder than we thought. We fought, and struggled. We slipped, and dripped. We fell, we were stopped, and it seemed like at every moment there was one other thing stacked against forward progress, against the attaining of our Peace. In the end, a quite a bit shorter than the grand 112 miles we had anticipated, we managed to be wet, tired, defeated, and pretty bummed that we missed our mark. We missed hearing all our friends telling us their messages of peace. We worked so hard, and we still failed.
The world around us, the weather, the plans, the goals all with good intentions, the gnarly head games all seemed to have conspired together to keep us from our goal.
“Look at this situation.”, the world said. “Look how much control you don’t have. How can you do anything about peace if you can’t control anything.”
It does not matter. Not how hard it is. Not how easy it is. Not how many people we had, or did not have. The key to our peace came in putting ourselves out there. We realized through the challenges and difficulties that what was happening to us, that was “beyond our control” actually where just toppings on the pizza. At the end of the day we gave it our all, and accomplished what we set out to do. We rolled for peace. We found our peace despite the situations or goings on around us. None of those factors mattered in the end, they were just a part of the story. We chose through it all to keep going as long as we could. We chose through it all to not be scared of the dangers facing us. We were aware of them, but we did not let the things that happened to us determine our outcome. We, all of us, are not what happens to us, or what others do to us. We are who we choose to be. We determine the filters we put up to view the world through, and we decide to act, or not. To be at peace, or to be at war.
We rolled for peace. We failed, fell, and ultimately our peace came not from anything we could not control, but our own selves.