I have been asked countless times why the run from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska and on any given day you might get a different answer. However, among the top two and the second one is a distant second is that it offers me a venue to speak to women and children in the jails and prison of the nation.
Last summer, did a 10,585 mile odyssey to the four corners of the nation to speak on the same topic. My sensing after the trip is that no one would have been interested enough to attend the talks if I had been driving around in my Prius. However, when they left the rooms after the talks, they knew there was a major problem.
My hope is that the run itself which I hope to do in less than 15 days will offer me venues to speak to what I think is one of the single greatest abominations in our criminal justice system. I could go on and on but that would not be productive till I have the new talk conceptualized and verbalized.
There are two key parts in the preparation for the journey next summer. The first is the commitment on the cushion. Every morning that I get up to do my prostrations and practice; like a mantra I vow to do make the best effort in every way possible. For me, this is not some abstract concept or statistical problem but it is a reality about people that have never gotten to the starting blocks of life. There are faces that make this a grim reality and act as spurs to always take the next step.
As much as it is about mothers and mothers to be; it is also about their children that number in the tens of thousands and there is well over a 50 percent chance they to will go to prison. Not because they are bad or evil as they come into this world trusting and ready to learn.
Each week, I go into a women’s prison and there are some 100 or so seats taken for the classes I teach. Yes, in many cases they have done wrongs, in some cases I am glad they are there and some I hope will never get out. However, for the most part these are women that have committed non-violent drug related crimes with an average of a 6th grade education. In essence, they are put on ice and returned to society after x number of years no better for the experience with a life sentence hanging over their heads like the sward of Damocles.
The second half of the preparation is physical in nature and that is in the gym. At my age which is in the 70th year, muscle tissue evaporates at the rate of something like 20 percent a decade if I do nothing. I have an 800 pound bike that has no sense of the coulda, shoulda or oughta. If you don’t handle it with muscle then it will do its own thing.
Also, riding for 400 to 500 miles a day for days and weeks at a time requires a fair amount of core body strength. This is not something that comes from wishing but from work. At the start of each session, I have to remind myself why I am there.
There is an unintentional spin-off to both the corner to corner odyssey as well as the run I intend to make from Key West to Deadhorse on a motorcycle. That is many of those I deal with on a day to day basis both inside the prisons and outside the prison look at me with a sense of something I have yet to be able to explain. I suppose it is some sort of awe in what kind of crazy person are they dealing with who has the ability to commit to this insanity that is standing in front of them. Make no mistake; it works to my advantage and I fully intend to capitalize on it.
I wait in ambush for the question: just why are you doing this?