If you’re like me, when you hear the word “convergence” you imagine two rivers flowing together to form a new body of water. But if you actually look up the word, you will find countless definitions, including mathematical, medical, lingual, social, and financial. I was particularly intrigued with the medical definition that eye doctors use:
Convergence: The coordinated turning of the eyes inward to focus on an object at close range.
Who knew ophthalmologists could be so soulful? Of course it’s a timeless and poetic notion, that sometimes instead of searching and exploring out in the world, you must look inward to truly find what is closest to your heart. In this vein, I’d like to ask for your patience while I try to tell you about two themes that have been flowing concurrent in my life lately.
The first time I heard about The Texas Water Safari was through flyfishing. Several years ago I was at a local flyshop and ran into some guys who were gearing up because they were racing in The Texas Water Safari, a 262-mile paddling race from Central Texas all the way to the coast. Ugh! Sounded awful. Why on earth would you spend so much time on the water unless fishing was involved? Pah-lease.
Well, the fishing crowd here in Austin tends to overlap with this paddling crowd, so through the years I have heard more and more about this crazy endurance race. For some insane reason I have actually started daydreaming about doing it myself. Which is nuts. Nuts! Me? I don’t really like to run a mile. And this event, billed as “The world’s toughest canoe race”, takes place in the heat of Texas summer, must be completed in under 100 hours, and draws semi-professional paddlers from places like Belize.
In fact The New York Times just did an article on the history and extreme nature of The Safari. Apparently paddlers endure heat stroke, hallucinations, capsized boats, cramps, water moccasins, spiders, alligator gar, and log jams which require tedious portaging of boats.
Hmmm, hellacious is the word that flows into my mind. And yet…could I? Naw! But maybe?
The first time I heard about Rett Syndrome was through flyfishing. Through the FFC blog I received an email from Bill Farnum, a flyfisher, Nike employee, husband and father whose daughter Ella lives with a serious illness called Rett Syndrome. This disease affects mostly girls, is caused by a mutation in the X chromosome, and causes problems in brain function that are responsible for learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.
Bill and his wife Beth are fighting tirelessly in a campaign to find a cure for Rett. With the help of generous sponsors they have created Casting 4 A Cure. Bill invited me to participate in one of the two flyfishing fundraisers and/or asked if I could use my blog to help spread the words about Rett.
My response was “Absolutely!”…but I needed a little time to ruminate on how to make the story more personal.
Enter Anna Luce and her daughter Rancey.
As you may recall, last month I went fishing in Montana with a group of women I didn’t know. On the second day or so, I heard someone make a reference about Anna’s daughter Rancey, who has Rett Syndrome.
Whoa!! Rett Syndrome!! Wait, isn’t that what Bill Farnum had emailed me about? I’d never heard of this disease before, and now that’s two times right in a row. And both in a flyfishing setting. Weird.
Sure enough, Anna explained that her 19-year old daughter Rancey has been living with Rett since her toddler years. Anna has spent the better part of two decades working with the medical community and the Rett families battle toward a cure with determination, grace and humor.
Last week when I was in Alabama I was able to spend time with both Anna and Rancey. It was such an inspired day! With all the moms and the kids and the laughter and the sunshine, the thing I loved most was that Rancey’s favorite parts of the day were in fact the truest blessings of a summer day at the beach….the feel of the ocean breeze blowing your hair away from your face, bobbing in the waves to cool off from the baking sun, the mess of a red popsicle melting faster than you can eat it.
Rancy could see what the rest of us sometimes overlook. Blessings strike close to the heart.
First sweet Ella. Then Rancey. It’s like the flyfishing gods were tapping me on my left shoulder, and then on my right. But what were they trying to say? What were they trying to show me?
Suddenly it came into focus. I looked inside and saw the answer. And good heavens, I hope I got it right because this is going to be brutal.
Next June I am going to race in the 2010 Texas Water Safari in honor of Rancey & Ella, in an attempt to raise funds and awareness in the fight against Rett Syndrome.
Oh my gosh did I just say that? Can you use White-Out on a blog? No? Ah! Yes, it’s true. I am going to do it. I don’t have all the details down pat, I will share them as they unfold, but here’s what I do know…
I am going to race in a canoe with my friend, Banning Collins. Banning is a flyfishing guide, white water guide and he will be racing to fight Alzheimer’s. He’s a saint to take this on with me.
I have already started following a low carb diet to try and lose a few pounds this summer. And I started doing pilates to diagnose just how desperate this situation is. Spoiler alert: I have a long way to go.
Over the course of the next twelve months we will have to get in shape, find a canoe, secure corporate sponsors, set up a fundraising site, learn the river route, test various sports drinks and meal replacements, acquire copious amounts of gear, and log about 300 hours of paddling training.
The Texas Water Safari. Rett Syndrome. These two storylines have converged in my life and now I am at the headwaters of utter insanity – and hopefully a new adventure. I’m trying to get my feet on the ground with what to do next. In the meantime, enjoy some images from this year’s race. Feel free to start crossing your fingers now. As you can see I am going to need all the mojo I can muster.
And here is a slideshow from the San Antonio Express news that really captures the essence of the race:
For Ella & Rancey….