When I was in my 20’s I used to ride with friends on bike tours through the Green Mountains in Vermont. Two years ago I participated in a charity bike ride for Love146 and was quickly reminded that I’m not in my 20’s anymore. After the first few long hills I thought I might end up actually being the object of charity.
At one point, while climbing one of the hills, I not only heard my heart pounding and my breathing turn to panting, but I kept hearing the last words of my wife from when I walked out the door… “Don’t kill yourself on this ride Rob. You’re not in your 20’s anymore.”
I quickly realized that if you don’t pace yourself, and think you can sprint the whole way, you may not have what it takes to finish. Unless you’re like my friend Matt, who has legs like pistons, a bike like the Batmobile, and did 75 miles in about the time it took most people to do 30.
My inspiration turned out to be my friend and co-worker Kathy, who rode a beach cruiser bicycle, fully equipped with whitewall tires, dual rear baskets and a bell on the handlebar. Not exactly the kind of bike you want to ride for any distance. But she paced herself the whole way and finished in style. Not only with a smile on her face and hardly a drop of sweat, but also arriving at the finish line on a very cool bike. She just kept going like the Energizer bunny. Didn’t finish first, but finished well.
All this to say…I’m still learning how to pace myself in this movement to end child slavery. There are days that I honestly feel really tired. And then there are days that I get a second wind and feel like I can run forever.
I’ve always felt a little sorry for those dogs at the dog races that are running around the track chasing after the fake rabbit in a futile attempt to catch it. The work to abolish modern day slavery can feel like that at times. Just when we feel like the end is coming into view; we read another statistic or hear another story, and the end seems to move further away. We sometimes feel what author Robert Benson describes as “lost between the dreaming and the coming true”.
I learned something during that bike ride. It’s about endurance. It’s about never giving up. It is not about chasing a rabbit or climbing a mountain or biking across a finish line. It is about ending slavery.
What’s it going to take? I’m reminded of something that Mr. Furious, from the movie Mystery Men, once said; "Someone must have ripped the "Q" section out of my dictionary, 'cause I don't know the meaning of the word "quit'!
Never give up. Why? Because of something that our Director of Aftercare often reminds us of at the end of meetings; “The children are waiting.”
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