Where is Any Length?

Have you ever wondered how far you would go to achieve something? Of course many of us have some one or thing in mind when we wonder this.  Most mothers state they would (and do) limitless things for their children.  Some leaders have gone so far as to give up their freedom (Nelson Mandela) and their political life altogether (former Attorney General Sally Yates) to stand by their beliefs: Equality for all people, to end “too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem solving” (ABC News), and “to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts” (CNN).  It brings me to wonder what I would be willing to do, and on a broader scale, what length all of us may beed to go to defend what we care about.

I have heard people say they would go to any length for the particular thing they were they envisioned as their goal. But what does this really mean. Is this a lofty statement? By this I mean if you were really called on to go to this “any length”, where would it take you? And, is it a physical length or a mental breaking point, or do the two occur together?

Here’s a few facts to ponder about distance:

  • The first person to run around the world was Robert Garside, completing 30,000 miles in 6 years.  (Guinness World Records).
  • A female Alaskan shorebird flew nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand (7,145 miles) —without taking a break for food or drink— in nine days. (National Geographic).
  • The longest major league baseball home run is 634 feet, by Mickey Mantle in on September  of1960 (Gunnies World Records); though measuring this particular statistic is hotly debated (for you science types see this article on Slate; and baseball fans go here).
  • Benoit Lecomte swam the Atlantic Ocean (3 736 nautical miles) in 1998, apparently driven to do so to raise awareness and money for cancer research, after his father died from colon cancer in 1992. (Read more here.)
  • The longest range recorded for a sniper kill was in 2002, during the war in Afghanistan, by Canadian Master Corporal Rob Furlong, at just over one and half miles (that’s 2,430 meters for everyone else using the metric system). (Wikipedia)

Maybe you are the relentless type and would stop at nothing. Or maybe you are passionate and driven, but to a point. Rescue a stranger from drowning? Run into a burning building for a trapped dog? Take a bullet for a loved one? I  believe social media, television, and the news have falsely shaped how we measure our success and achievements.

First you must decide what it is you value, what are the stakes. If something is not threatened, an imminent loss, do you care? What is that for you? Should there be a common definition of what to fight for, how far to go, not only for each of use as individuals but all of use as, well ‘us’. Is there a length for Americans, women, environmentalists, LGBTQ? Or maybe we all need to become ‘us”, see the value in everything that is worth preserving, expand how far we are willing to go.

Personally, I am not a quitter; but, I have been isolationistic in my selection of what and how far I will go. I used to  believe my job was to help my husband by being a good partner, teach my brother what I’ve learned in the 19 years I was on the planet before him, sign every petition for all the causes threatened by all the ‘bad guys’, and write. I fell very strongly about the last role as I am sure most writers do. Our job is to be so honest that it invokes emotion, thought or action in the reader. We should be truthful (even or especially in fiction) and use words to describe conditions, feelings, the larger world and its meaning.

At the moment, I am at a loss for words of what exactly has happened to the world (for this in not an American problem; hate on this grand scale is not unique or special).  All I know is I have had more fear in the last three months than in many years. I am not afraid of the new leadership or wild decisions here and abroad. My fear is that I will not, in times of true need, go further than I am comfortable. It is convenient to click an “Add My Signature” button or write a check for a good cause. However, I know that right now, I must summon the honesty–tap into that proud writer muscle–and accept that this is not a time for doing the comfortable. It is a time to not only root for the underdogs of the world, defend the Earth and it’s creatures, and let the leaders I trust(ed) do the heavy lifting, but also to set aside what I think I can do, what I think any one of us should do. Maybe it is better only know and judge your own limitations, and then push beyond them anyway.

It may be the time to take the long road into the unknown place and not lose sight of what you value along the way for it will not make the journey any less intimidating, but will help you see the bigger picture, remember what is at stake.

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