Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The White Flag

It was just one month ago I was in Lancaster waiving an actual white flag working the Streets of Lancaster race. That race seems like it was just a day ago. Where has this month gone? Already I'm on the white flag of my 2013 National Autism Awareness Tour (white flag meaning one lap to go if this were a race.)

An audience of 1,500 at Lutheran High School of Orange County, Orange, CA
Yesterday I experienced my largest audience ever with 1,500 people spoken to at once and it feels odd to be able to say that I did this without fear at all. I think back to another time I had a white flag in my life, back in 2003 as I was about to head home from a month of instructing at the Derek Daly Academy and the feelings I'm feeling now are about the same.

Today is my final day on tour. After my presentations today, one at a high school, two at a university, and an evening one that is open to the public, tomorrow will see the long drive home. Just as I did in 2003, and on last year's tour for that matter, I feel worried as if this is it— as if this drive home is the end. Yes, I know I have open to the public presentations in Saint Louis next week, then a trip to speak at a school in Rolla, Bourbon, and Springfield, but still there's this feeling as if today is the final lap coming to the checkered.

That's one of the things I've always struggled with in my life. It's been something talked about on my blog many times going back to the day in which I gave my last POST training to police officers in 2010. Sure, I still present to officers, but that string, or era as I called it in that post, was over. So too now as after today, well, let me explain.

My brain can handle the now, but there's a different concept of time which creates this future anxiety. There will be a chapter in my 2nd book (at least I think it is in there) talking about the concept of "past, present, and oblivion." What this means is I know what was, I know what is and whatever is is forever which means the future is in no way understandable. What does all this mean? This means that with change comes a future that simply isn't. It is impossible for me to understand change, to see it and to calculate it. This month I've had a calendar to go by and I've been able to go from town to town to town and follow the directions and go to the hotels. You may think this traveling is difficult but it's actually rather easy because there's a schedule to go by but after today it is gone.

This isn't to say that the end of this tour is the end of the world. It's going to be nice to be home, to be in my own bed, to be able to actually see my girlfriend and go out for dinner and see a movie, but at the same time, professionally, it feels as if this is an end and that I'm never going to have this chance again.

It's awful the way my brain handles these things. Instead of seeing the fact that I will have spoken to over 7,500 people this month I'm worried about the fact that something like this will never happen again. In a way I feel robbed because I'm not actually able to enjoy the moment as I'm looking forward towards oblivion. However, in each case I've feared the white flag would lead to the final checkered flag, I have been proven wrong each time. I thought I never would present to officers again (referring to the blog I linked to) and I still do. I thought I'd never have an audience over 200 again when I achieved that, and I have. I thought I'd never go out of Missouri to present, but I have many times. I thought I'd never go on a national tour again after April of last year and yet here I am, once again, closing out what has been a most phenomenal tour in terms of people reached and impact. Will I get to do this again? I hope so and while my brain is telling me today is the end, I'm battling it, thinking that this is just another end of one race and the next race will be at a bigger venue with more people and an even larger impact. While my brain may be thinking that, I do have to get going to get to today's presentations which will mark the end of my tour on the road.

1 comment:

  1. Not being a part of the racing world your references sometimes escape my understanding, although you do a great job of explaining them to us non-racing types. But I can certainly equate the white flag to my love of reading. And since you are a writer also, I know you can relate. I see your white flags not as the end of a book, but simply the end of the chapter. If I recall correctly, you even said yourself that this was simply another chapter. I do feel for you when you state that you feel cheated in not being able to celebrate what this past month meant to you and to the hundreds (thousands?) of people that you reached out to and those that you definitely touched. I can't comprehend that and I certainly won't lie to you and say that I understand. I don't. But that's why I read your blogs every day. To try to begin to understand, at least a little bit. Whether you can see it or not, or whether you believe it or not, this was a great tour and it sounds like you've planted the seeds of change many times over. I plan on attending the presentation on the 5th after you get back to St. Louis. Hope to stop and chat with you for a minute if you have time. Be careful on the way home and enjoy the time to reflect.