“The mark of an educated man is one who gets paid to play.” ~ Alan Watts
In 1997, I biked the Twin Cities => Chicago AIDS Ride 2. It was a personal achievement that taught me life lessons, and ultimately fueled my move to Hollywood. I can’t possibly contain the entire experience within the confines of a short blog, so here is a[n edited] copy of the thank you letter I gave to my donors (bad grammar and all) that expressed my transformation:
” . . . I’ve procrastinated this Thank You letter because I couldn’t figure out how to express it. I think the overwhelming feeling is incredulity. I still can’t believe that I did it. . . . . What you don’t know, and I didn’t know until now, is what an incredibly immense impact this ride has had on me. I will never look at a blade of grass, a butterfly, the sky, a lemonade stand – anything the same way again. You all contributed to something more . . . Again, it’s incredible to me that I was able to . . . ride my bike (halfway) across the country . . . . The funny thing is, if I really knew what I was getting myself into, I never would’ve done it. Really.
I’m so glad I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Once I was in it, failure was not an option. It’s the thing worth having that puts us through the most. I wanted to cry so badly on that fourth day. Every time I had just worked my ass of . . . getting up one hill, there was another, and another, and another. I wanted to stop, to cry, to yell, to just stop mid-peddle and collapse, but there’s that thing within us that pushes and convinces, and in the middle of it all, just carries us through. . . . Looking at the next hill from atop the one I just climbed, I saw it huge and impossible, and I planned to not do it, to rest, to walk my bike up. I had this thought process every time, and every time I pushed on through. I went beyond believing until I actually knew that every hill was not as big as it looked. I broke through an illusion.
So when it’s all over and I’ve traveled 470 miles, put my body through hell, put my mind and soul through cleansing, my best friends are waiting for me at the finish line, the country’s been made aware of the dying, and I’m tan and muscular and exhausted and lonely, I cry. I just cry and cry and cry and can’t believe it. It was the most difficult thing I’ve every done in my life and I will never do it again. But then again, every hill looks harder than it really is . . . Thank you for contributing to this life-changing event. I am forever grateful,