I've had a day to ponder the many events the happened over Ben's 360+ mile journey. I can't wait to share some of the stories with you.
The most amazing story though is Ben himself. Getting to see, first hand, someone stripped down to nothing and watch them fight through it, rebuilding themselves, is something very special. You get to see the real them and what makes them tick. I feel fortunate to have been able to have a front row seat. I don't like to see people hurting though I know in these events it is inevitable. I'll give no sympathy, only compassion. I saw Ben in extreme pain though he really didn't complain. We addressed the issues he was having, knowing we could fix them only so well and move on. I watched Ben face his fears and take them head on. Fear of injury. Dark lonely nights. Fear of failure. Wondering if he'd made a bad decision in doing this in the first place. When there was doubt, he worked through it like a seasoned veteran. Truly amazing for someone in his twenty's much less only 20.
You're not born, of course, with the level of maturity that Ben has. It is learned. Though I did get to meet his father, our time together was brief. I'm certain Ben's maturity comes from an upbringing in a family that today is growing increasingly rare. A family connected to one another and that loves and respects one another. Ben's Dad is his Dad. Not his best friend. Ben and his Dad have an admiration for one another that is truly special. They are each others biggest fan and that is awesome. Ben's Mom is still his Mom. She would call and express her concern as she was worried about her little boy. She would call his cell phone more times than Ben wanted her to. He felt guilty for not getting back to her. As maybe he should have. He had a childish smirk on his face when he asked his Dad to do something to calm her fears. Once in a while a quick call would settle her but only for a short time and the phone would ring again. That's just how mothers are. Ben loves him Mom and that's cool.
In a sport mostly populated by older people like myself, Ben is a breath of fresh air. My hope is for Ben to be an example to our younger generation that it's OK to look for happiness in places other than a pill, bottle or another persons arms. What running can provide is an understanding of who we are and that we are much better and more capable of what we thought we were. Ben and I chatted about how we both dislike running though we like what it gets us. Ben has been taught to not take the easy way out of difficult situations. Only a week before he started running from Beach was when he decided to do it. He couldn't think of a reason not to do it. He felt a calling to do something to help out his devastated community, he's good at long distance running, and he had a week before school started. He could have done nothing which is what most do, but that wouldn't be Ben.
You may call it youthful exuberance, recklessness or self destruction, but I know Ben well enough to know of his determination and commitment and I wanted to see him succeed. Was I certain he would succeed? No. But I was willing to do all I could to see to it that he did, and like I said, I'm fortunate to have had a front row seat. Can wait to see what he'll do next.