To the Reno Tahoe Odyssey Teams

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This morning the first runners took off to start a 178-mile relay race around Lake Tahoe, through Genoa and Virginia City and back to Reno. The Reno Tahoe Odyssey is unlike any other race and is far from a competition for most. Around 260 teams gather to support each other and have a great time as they run a beautiful historic and scenic course. Each runner averages three legs of the race and survives on little to no sleep. Thousands of people come together for one event with little competition and a ton of camaraderie.

To the runners:

Cheers to you! You said “Yes” to this crazy idea! Maybe you ran last year and maybe this is your 13th year running, and you came back and said “Yes” again. Committing to your team, training for your miles and preparing for the unexpected, this race is no easy feat. This is a true physical and mental challenge. The people who come back year after year and the ones who spontaneously agree to participate, these are all of the people who make this event so much fun. It is hard to commit to the unknown and it is also hard to commit to repeating something you know was extremely challenging that you have done before.

It is far from glamorous as you spend 26+ hours in a van with people running and sweating, and trying their best to sleep through adrenaline. You might be sleeping in a hotel at the lake, in the Walmart parking lot, or in your van. Here’s to you for stepping out of your comfort zones to be willing to push your limits and grow through discomfort.

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Recognize your supporters. Every runner gets to do this kind of race that lasts two whole days because of someone else. Someone who supports what they are doing. They support the adventure and the challenge. Maybe they are watching your kids while you run, making meals for your team, or even just the one saying, “yeah, go for it!” when you presented this wild idea. These people are the balance that allows you to develop yourself and become resilient.

Once you finish the race you will be completely wiped out, but you and your team will be united and proud because you all did it. You will be stronger, more resilient, and more likely to do an adventurous challenge again. Nothing feels better than running to the finish line of your leg with your team cheering you on. Runners, get out there and cheer everyone on, push yourself, and have an amazing time! I will be running leg 12 so I hope to see you all at the finish line! Good luck to all of the teams!

Your Opponent is Not Your Enemy

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Every day I see people insult each other on the internet. A day doesn’t go by where someone isn’t verbally or physically attacked for having a different belief than someone else. Most of the time it is due to opposing political beliefs, especially now when we are all so divided. How do we bridge the gap between our beliefs in order to come together as a stronger world community?

We need to talk about it:

In real life we often avoid those uncomfortable conversations. We are taught to be polite, and that in order to avoid confrontation we should evade certain topics, such as politics. Just don’t bring it up. But there has to be somewhere in the middle of hiding behind the internet and attacking each other, and skirting around having real conversations face to face. We need to express ourselves, but in constructive ways. Attacking someone for their point of view is not going to make them want to change over to your side.

We need to allow people to talk to us and show themselves, and express themselves without being condemned for their thoughts. This is how we build community; we need to see each other, and respect each other no matter how badly we disagree with their viewpoints.

“People don’t have to be bloodied for engaging in public space” ~ Melissa Harris-Perry

We need to listen:

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Acknowledge; even if it is painful. This is how we care for each other. You don’t have to agree with them. You are still you, just acknowledge that your opponent is not your enemy. We can’t all think the same way, and these are the people we can learn from. There are definitely some hateful extremists that are out there trying to get a rise out of people. Don’t take the bait.

Don’t hide behind an online persona, because there is only one you. Not the online you and the in person you; it is all you, so represent yourself in a way that is true. The world is connected through the internet, so show the best version of yourself.  This is how you can make positive connections with people who share your values.

“Liberals and conservatives must take the time to really listen to one another, to understand one another’s values and to think creatively about why someone with very different political and moral commitments from their own should nonetheless come to agree with them. Empathy and respect will be critical if we are going to sew our country back together.” ~ Robb Willer

Next time you encounter an uncomfortable topic, I encourage you to engage with the conversation, whether you agree or not, in a constructive way. Listen to each other. Try and understand why that person thinks that way, or what they are afraid of. You might find that a lot of those values cross over and that you have something in common. Through discomfort, we grow. Every voice counts and every single positive interaction online and in person helps to bridge the gaps between the ideas and beliefs that we think make us different from one another.

 

This blog is inspired by a talk by Melissa Harris-Perry.