The thing about having a knee jerk reaction to something is that if you jerk hard enough, you can kick yourself smack in the boobs and it stings enough that you just don’t think straight. It stings enough that you can’t really think straight and can’t really give a coherent answer when someone asks if you’re all right; if you can speak at all you cough out another jerk-like reaction and sputter, “I’m fine” even if you’re not.
That’s been pretty much my whole Komen thing over the last three weeks ago. Earlier in the month I was done with Komen, and if not for how close we were to the 3 Day event and not wanting to hose DKM, I would have bailed on it entirely.
I am so glad I didn’t.
A lot of that is selfishness, but a good part of it is seeing the event without a veil of upset clouding my sight. Like last year, I had a great time. It was long days of doing a lot on little sleep, but I had a blast. I got to be a little stupid and a lot goofy; I sang and danced and shook water and Gatorade jugs at walkers, I drove a lot and didn’t run anyone over, and I saw a lot of raw emotion.
I saw the bigger picture.
The bigger picture of the 3 Day isn’t Komen as a whole. It’s not Nancy Brinker and her outrageous pay raise; it’s not the whole Planned Parenthood fiasco. It’s not my possibly pretentious indignation over events that are far too easy to politicize and misunderstand. It has nothing to do with me or my feelings.
The bigger picture started to lose its fuzziness with every stop we made to pick up a walker needing to get to the next pit stop. It began to come into focus while we stood at the entry to Land’s End to remind the walkers there was no sweep access for the next 1.2 miles and that they had a giant staircase to ascend, as I danced like a rhythm impaired drunk and shook jugs filled with water and Gatorade for those who might not have enough to drink as they went onto the trail. I could really see it as we drove the van around town, trailing the caboose—a staff member who rides a bicycle, following the last walker, making sure they’re safe and that the route doesn’t close before they’re done—and seeing her gut out the tough hills and slow pace, without complaining and even hinting that it was an issue or even “just” her job.
Komen has problems; Komen knows it has problems. I really don’t like some of the things that have happened over the last couple of years and how those have been handled. I really don’t like some of that I’ve been hearing from people working closer to the inside than I’ll ever get. But those things really are just a handful of pixels in a fairly high-def image.
The 3 Day Walk isn’t about Komen; it’s about all the women and men to whom the fight matters. It’s about the agony of loss and hope of ending that pain.
It’s about doing.
Look, we’ve all lost someone to disease; heart disease, stroke, accidents, and cancer. We all know how helpless losing someone can make a person feel, and how being able to save someone else from that fate would take a bit of the sting away.
I’m guessing that not many of the people whose feet hit the pavement this weekend are in the position to actually find a cure for breast cancer, but all of them needed to do something about it, contribute in any way they could. And I’m pretty sure that all of them understood that not 100% of the money they raised goes directly into the research that will, someday, find that cure. Knowing that didn’t keep them from walking the 500+ training miles in preparation to tackle this walk, and it didn’t keep them from lacing up their shoes every very cold morning in the San Francisco Bay area and heading out to walk on often horrible pavement and gravel-covered trails. The pain and overwhelming emotions that can come with a 3 Day walk didn’t stop anyone. We saw more than one person limping along in obvious pain but they wouldn’t stop to take a sweep van, and we witnessed more than one struggling with tears and losing that fight as they pushed on.
This walk matters to these people. It matters more than the mistakes and more than the politics.
It’s very easy to sit back and criticize and complain, and to mutter things about finding a cure and how this should be done and that should be stopped and why the hell hasn’t a cure been found already, but it’s not so easy to DO something about it.
So, yeah…only twenty days ago I was done with Komen.
Now, perhaps not so much. I’m bummed that so many cities had to be cut for next year. I honestly understand why they needed to drop so many and I understand why San Francisco had to be one of them (it is seriously expensive to host a walk in SF.) I don’t like how they’ve conducted business over the last couple of years, but I have high hopes that with the new CEO at the helm, things will change.
Flip flop much, Thump?
Or maybe it just became clear that I can have serious issues with Komen but still support the cause, and support the people to whom that cause really matters.
Those people are the bigger picture.
Besides, where else can I dance with Hookers and paramedics while belting out Bohemian Rhapsody?
I feel bad that this was the last 3 Day in SF for the foreseeable future, and mostly I feel bad for all the participants, and how much it likely hurts them that their outlet, the biggest way they could make a difference, is no more.