“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.”
- Aldous Huxley
Day 42 - Thursday, August 3, 1995 - Alycia Longriver (Kokum) has taken responsibility for getting the walkers up out of their sleeping bags and onto the road in the mornings. This morning her leadership helped get them off to a smart start. The group covered 23 miles, right to the end of Skyline Drive.
Our Sunbow 5 walk will take its first steps on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway tomorrow.
Day begins - Whenever possible at sunrise and sunset
the Sunbow 5 walkers come together in a circle.
Tom tells people that he is the "head man" for the walk, and this is so. Yet he leans on Alycia for help in many ways, relying on her steadiness. She is strong and stable. Other walkers tell me she has demonstrated generous reserves of equanimity in the face of stress, crisis, and the various crescendos of positive and negative emotions that the people on the walk experience. Tom trusts her. They have become friends, complements to one another. Alycia's calm is a counterbalance to Tom's tempestuous personality, the walkers tell me.
During the day several walkers set out to purchase a Ford cargo van to help haul equipment and people between camp sites. But ultimately they decided there were too many suspicious rattles in the van. They will continue their search for a vehicle in the days ahead. "Bess" remains the workhorse, a trustworthy Navy blue 1985 Toyota pickup truck donated just at the moment the walk was beginning on First Encounter Beach. Packed to overflowing each day, coaxed and soothed with prayer, Bess putts onward in dignity, up and down the Shenandoah Mountains.
Overnight the walkers encamped at the home of Patty Hiller in Crozet, Virginia. They circled up after the Sun set, and called Grandfather Commanda on the phone for advice to help them work out some problems. There have been tremendous stresses and disagreements among the walkers. Various walkers tell me that Tom has been popping his cork regularly, ranting and raging about one thing or another. The walkers want to face that, and to have Tom settle down.
Later, when I also spoke with Grandfather over the phone, he told me that what was happening for the walk was understandable: people naturally become exhausted and discouraged on any great undertaking such as this pilgrimage. There are challenges every day of walking, heat, bugs, humidity, camping, cooking, cleaning and the inevitable clash of personalities with little opportunity for solitary escape. Add to all this the felt urgency of our Sunbow mission, he said, and you have a recipe for stress.
Grandfather told me that he advised the walkers to hang in there. "Have faith and keep going," he told them. "We always have hope. Remember that. We always have hope."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 43 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire