Thursday, July 31, 2008

Babee at the Great Wall


Can you comprehend over 4,000 miles of wall? 4,000 MILES! Here's a site that describes how three men spent four months running the equivalent distance in the Sahara

This reminded me of my former colleague Greg Gent, an information architect, who completed a marathon in the Sahara. He told some compelling stories about his training and preparation as well as the amazing experience itself. I believe, from his testimony, that it changed his life. So I looked him up online and found this site which suggests that he is moonlighting as some sort of a freedom fighter. I checked a few of the unfinished pages and found that he started them in 2003. Hmm, Greg, would that be about the time we received SumTotal version 7? I'll add you to my mailing list!

I wonder if the French would have been any more successful in WWII if they had asked the Chinese to design the Maginot line? Although I guess if you can find a way to flank the wall it doesn't really matter how long it is or how well constructed.

It seems so natural, this unnatural juxtaposition of man-made and natural majesty. And what testimony to the lengths (no pun intended) to which we go to protect ourselves from others. I can't wait to see this. 

I have a list of places I have seen that blew me away and caught me so directly, took my breath away, left me helplessly standing; crying from the impact of that magical sense of awe at the combination of the beauty of God's creation and man's ingenuity and thirst for glory, power, making a mark, leaving a legacy.

Walking out of the typical noisy cluttered subway in Rome into the majestic gray shadow of the crumbling Coliseum; getting off the streetcar in San Francisco at the top of Lombard street and looking down at the impossible white, narrow, crowded town-housed streets twistingly sandwiched between the azure sky and bay and bordered by the rusty red expanse of the Bay Bridge; leaving my curtains open all night so when I woke half-way through to morning in Sydney I could see the lights of Darling Bay sprinkling across my bedspread; looking out my window during an early morning descent to see the pearly, floating, unbelievable vista of New York skyscrapers emerging like some futuristic Glockamora against the rose tints of the dawn; waking up in Colorado Springs and opening the front door of my room at the Residence Inn to be smacked dead away by the Rockies towering over me (and imaging the pioneers rounding the bend and seeing them, looking at their wagons, and saying, "oh shit!" -- seriously how DID they get across?); standing as a teenager in graveyard after graveyard in Normandy while my dad tried to find the men he, as an army chaplain, had buried-- surrounded by impossibly evenly distributed and aligned miles of white crosses; swimming in a still quiet lake in Ontario where the water was so clear you could see to the bottom no matter how far out you ventured; any time I drive back to my hometown of Pittsburgh and pass through the Liberty Tubes to see the three rivers and the city emerge amidst the network of bridges and roads; the riot of flowers in the barges floating gently on the canals in Amsterdam; the mad, busy, purposeful train stations in Frankfurt and the castled quaintness of Heidelberg; and one of the most amazing -- exiting a sea world-type show on the island of Sentosa at the tip of Singapore, rounding the corner to look out at the open sea, and seeing hundreds of boats in a breathtaking testament to how much goes on, on the other side of the world, and everywhere else where we aren't. 

I have been blessed surely in these opportunities and hope that my children can do this, see more of the world and glory in its infinite variety and the wonder of its people.
I can't wait to be in this place with my daughter and I rejoice in her joy about what she is discovering. 

Lots to do still. Nathan is one of the modern wonders of the world. He has been harassing the airlines and poking the seat pin pointers and managed to find two seats with decent leg room for he and his dad. I don't mind being in an inner seat as long as I have my toys (iPod, books, DVD player, laptop or journal) and plenty of Motrin.

Pearl, Nathan's mother in law and one amazing lady, asked me to give her information about the rowing coverage and I promise all of you that I will do so as I learn more. Pearl was born in Taiwan and has already called the hotel on our behalf to learn more about what we should expect. We're compiling another list and she has volunteered to call again. I have listed things like: is there a hairdryer? is the Internet in the room and free? do the magnetic springs smell like sulfur? do we need to dress for dinner?

1 comment:

Neil said...

Julia,
Thanks for sharing and providing us a window into the life of an olympian. I can only imagine how proud you must be.
All the best Margot! Hopefully we can meet someday (and see your gold medal) and I can introduce you to my 9 year old daughter!