May 26, 2015

Way over Yonder in the Minor Key.

brett erin wedding shea danowski

Erin & Brett get hitched. “Every action we take, every thought we have—in fact, every time we inhale and exhale we are impacting not only those we love dearly, but the world at large.” ~ from Richard Freeman‘s poem to the couple, which I had the honor to read in a high open mountain meadow at their wedding ceremony yesterday. [Photo: @kimi80]


Now I have walked a long long ways
And I still look back to my tanglewood days
I’ve led lots of girls since then to stray
Saying, ain’t nobody that can sing like me
.” ~ Woody Guthrie


Two nights ago, I was nervous.

Excited. Stressed. I stopped working early (you know, 1030pm) and drank a little organic (!) local gin in an effort to sleep and read a bit of the new Becoming Steve Jobs. Still, I couldn’t fall asleep—though normally I sleep like a baby. Why was I so amped up?

Every year in Boulder, for decades, we’ve hosted the BolderBoulder—a 10K (6.2 mile) race. It’s half race, half fun: it’s not that competitive for most folks, who run, walk, or wear silly costumes. Hundreds of veterans and children and the elderly and people with disabilities, including dozens of blind citizens, and thousands of citizens just trying to get in shape all run. Then, too, there’s a competitive track of world-class athletes, Olympians, winners of the Boston and NYC marathons.

Over the course of the year, I don’t run. I walk with my dog, I climb a bit (weakly), I yoga a bit (lazily), I bike every day (but only around this rather small town). But then the BolderBoulder comes, and I jump in. For the next few months, inspired, I’ll run more (Red, my rescue hound, will be grateful).

The BolderBoulder is more than a race: it’s a vision of a community. It’s a day when 52,000 runners and another few hundred thousand Boulderites and spectators and tourists come together for one morning—and you see the masses of humanity share their exertion, and cheer one another on.

It’s a day when you see humanity’s basic goodness.

So I woke after only five fitful hours of sleep, biked down to the starting line in short USA shorts and Newton shoes, and the gun set us off at 7:13 am. I’m in wave EC, meaning I’m pretty average. I pushed hard from the beginning, this year, gunning for my best time. So…I suffered, not having really run at all. I finished with my best time: 52 minutes.

Once the race was done, I went up to the VIP/press room in CU’s Folsom Stadium (the first zero waste stadium in the US) and limped (my calves had seized up) down a few steps from the top where I could see the Flatirons and historic Chautauqua and all the mountains spread out like green waves running North and South and, below, thousands upon thousands of happy and silly and moving and inspiring humans. I saw a young muscular son patiently, cheerfully walking with his disabled father; I saw a woman pushing her husband in a wheelchair up the same hill I’d struggled up just moments before. All along the course there are bands, bagpipes, children passing out water and gatorade, a slip n’slide. It’s a milestone of our year, here. Let Summer begin! Swimming pools open!


After the race, I headed up into the mountains with a friend to the wedding of Brett and Erin, two students of yogi Richard Freeman. They got married up at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, a green-ish mountain resort. Brett, handsome, cheerful, started crying a little the moment the ceremony began. Erin was beautiful in an unusual dress (creative colors). Their baby girl Sienna arrived in a Radio Flyer cart. I read a poem of Richard’s at the ceremony, about love and letting go and how to maintain a relationship that furthers the greater good. The mountain valley is 12,000 feet high, with views of blindingly white snow peaks gray-shadowed by fast-pushed clouds. Horses and streams. Jake played guitar and sang. My pal and I stayed in a little lofted timber cabin. The wedding dinner was vegetarian/vegan—and so delicious the meat-eaters among us were happy. Even the cupcakes had a vegan option.


Love isn’t for the weak. It’s tough stuff. But it is for the meek, and the vulnerable—we have to be open in love, not just to it. We have to love fully, so that our hearts break, and we have to smile through our tenderness, as both Brett and Erin did.

Life is sweet, and long, but it moves quickly: this wedding was a reminder that I have let much of it slip by over the past 12 years, building up elephant to serve as a platform for (hopefully) some benefit and awareness in this troubled, wonderful world of ours.

In a world beset by sexism, racism, ISIS, speediness, greed, McMansions replacing farm and open space, craven corporate influence…our only chance is to come together. If we can come together around a race, we can come together around basic goodness.

On the drive down from the mountains, this morning, we listened to Way over Yonder. And I looked at my friend and at the mountains and at my heart and life and felt joy. We can do this. We can be genuine and soft yet bold and strong. We can serve the greater good, and enjoy life’s many rich and difficult present moments along the way.

Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,

Waylon Lewis
Editor-in-Chief: elephant journal; host: Walk the Talk Show
Readership: 18.8 million readers a month

Relephant bonus:

Woody Guthrie’s Way over Yonder by Billy Bragg & Wilco:

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