I'm carrying a marble in my jersey pocket now. It feels almost ironic to have the seemingly unnecessary weight (I cut off the end of my toothbrush and rip out already-read pages from my book to slim down on grams), but it makes me feel lighter.
Alex Newport-Berra used to leave marbles on top of a grassy hill for his students to find. They seemed disinterested in spending time outdoors, but once he introduced the new challenge of the marble search they savored the time outdoors. His mother Pat recapped how they transitioned from dreading climbing the grassy hill to racing up it. When we stayed with Pat and Buzz outside Corvallis, she gave us each a marble to carry on our journey. She wanted us to carry a little bit of "Alex magic."
Alex died two years ago. He was an adventurer, a teacher, a cyclist, a poet. Each anecdote Pat told us about him reminded me of Patrick, not just in physical traits but in spirit. It's an odd feeling to miss someone you've never met. But as we walked through the halls of his childhood home and admired his old photos and sat at his dinning room table sharing wine with his parents, I couldn't help but feel a dull longing. I miss Alex. Not as I miss Patrick, but in the way many of you reading this may miss Patrick. You may not have grown up with him or sat in class with him or rode bikes with him, but you know he was one of the good ones. You know that you miss him.
This marble reminds me of the weight that you all carry. Weight that is not overwhelming, weight that is not predominantly your own, but one you carry nonetheless.
Here's to the race up that grassy hill. Meet you at the top?