Recent events prove the indomitable nature of the human spirit, from million person solidarity marches to hosting an elite athletic event. In the wake of the Paris attacks last Friday, my three adult children and I felt the burden of those barbarous terror attacks lifting from our hearts as we crossed the Catalina Channel toward Avalon for their big 50 mile Avalon foot race. As the knots clicked by we searched for grey whales; before long blow spouts splashed on the horizon. My son, Dan, quickly maneuvered the boat toward the blows. Smooth whale trails led to the majesty of watching a long sleek whale as it rose out of the sea. I gasped indelight! More blows. Before long another whale sighting. We were in that thrilled state of mind when we entered Avalon harbor. Suddenly seeing the flags at half mast, we were jolted back to reality. The truth of the wicked nor'easter, the week before, and the havoc it wreaked on the small island became evident, resulting in the death of two island residents.
As we moored, I caught sight of a giant orange tractor on the beach, clearing the remains of two crushed boats, victims of unrelenting twelve foot waves. As a lifetime visitor to the island my heart was heavy. In all my years of boating I have never witnessed such destruction; ruined boats, fields of debris, and evidences of broken dreams.
On shore my three companions checked in for the race. They posed under the "Catalina Benefit 50 Mile Run" banner that hung between two palm trees next to the demolished hull of an enormous boat. On the walk to our hotel we studied the impromptu memorial to the two fallen Avalon boaters killed in the tumult of the storm, one of the worst to ever ravage the small island.
At every turn, residents of Avalon, seemed to need to share about the murderous storm. We learned that "Pretty Boy" or "P.B.," the dog, came shivering into the Marlin Club where his owner spent time. The dog's
owner, Bruce Ryder, and the boat they lived on, Ocean Ryder, had been lost. We listened to details about Tim Mitchell, the first harbor patrolman killed in the line of duty in one hundred years. He had been trying to save the 65' dive boat, King Neptune, when it crushed him. His successful effort in moving it out of the trajectory of the several boats moored in the harbor, boats with people aboard, likely spared lives.
On Saturday, race day, the memorial for Bruce Ryder was underway fifteen feet from the race headquarters. I felt a mix of emotions as I observed the miserable faces of the mourners juxtaposed against
the triumph of the early finishers. I thought more about the events of recent days, how bravely the residents of the island were trying to move forward by hosting the event, even thought they were still very clearly in the middle of their own tragedy. Some twelve hours later, my wet but jubilant runners crossed the finish line; strength in the midst of adversity. Today's headlines are filled with reports of the millions marching across the world in demonstrations of solidarity against terror attacks. These events once again highlight for me our indomitable human spirit. We don't stop and we are not giving up.
These stories of the human spirit are all around us. I would love to hear an indomitable story you have observed.