Single Serving Friends, A Game Of Dominoes, And Six Miles In Someone Else’s Shoes
Most of the people we all meet while camping end up being single serving friends. People that we interact with for a moment in time, and then never cross paths again. Sometimes, those single serving friends and a game of dominoes can change your life.
Greg, Greg Sr. and Uncle Larry pulled into the campground on Thursday as Loretta and I were walking the dog and came past their site. We said hi to the new neighbors like we always do and talked a few minutes about the reason they were in town for a few days. We exchanged all the same pleasantries we always do, not expecting the simple act of saying hi to the new neighbors to have the impact it did on our lives that day.
Now I’m not going to tell you why they are in town, yet. Because as important as that is, it’s important to me that you get to know Greg, which will help you understand the mission he is on. We brought the dog back to our site and let them finish getting set up on theirs, and parted ways.
Later that night Loretta and I were taking a stroll and came past Greg’s site where we saw Greg, Greg Sr., Uncle Larry and our other neighbor Corey sitting at the picnic table playing a game of dominoes. I’ve never played the game before but I always wanted to learn so we asked if we could watch them play and were warmly welcomed to pull up a chair and hang out for the night.
We spent the rest of the night learning how to play, seeing how well we picked up on the strategy of the game, and laughing as though we had all known each other forever. We sat and talked all night, mixing lessons on how to play the game with the standard Where are you from and where are you headed conversations that come along with RV Living. In talking with Greg you can feel the genuine interest in the conversation and the human connection, not just the typical exchange of pleasantries in a new single serving social circle.
When sharing stories with Greg you can hear the excitement he has for meeting new people along his journey and you come to understand why he is passionate that every day is a gift. He shared the story about his moment in time that started him on this journey.
I’m not going to tell it, because it is not my story to tell. Hearing his story pulled at our heart strings and hit very close to home for Loretta and I and we feel blessed to have heard it and to have met Greg on such a personal level.
Loretta and I were able to share a story with Greg and relate why what he is doing is as important to us as it is to him. Our story isn’t going to be shared here either, maybe over a beer around a campfire one night, but probably not.
It was late in the night at this point and we were all getting ready to turn in for the night, but before parting ways Greg said “Hey why don’t you guys come walk with me tomorrow”, and we couldn’t be happier that he did. Greg will have walked over 1700 miles through 25 major cities to help spread his message and warm the hearts of the people he meets along the way.
Hit The Bricks
Friday morning we jumped in the truck and drove out to Philadelphia to #WalkWithGreg. We met up at the Liberty Bell as our starting point for the day and were joined by a great group of people who were also looking to help Greg in mission and be a part of the team. We met up with Evan, Angelo, Chris, Elizabeth and Matt who were all West Point Alumni. It was truly an honor to have spent some time with everyone we met that day.
We set out through the city of brotherly love on a day where the temperature would be in the 90’s with 90% humidity, so Greg Sr and Uncle Larry following behind us with the truck and coolers full of water was an absolute blessing. We were only able to push through 6 of Gregs 1700 miles with him before the heat finally broke us. Greg didn’t get back to the campground until several hours after us as he, Elizabeth and Evan kept on pushing through the heat and exhaustion.
Greg is on a mission to try to end veteran suicide. Now I know you may be thinking that walking across half the country isn’t going to change anything. That act in it self probably won’t, but it is the message that Greg is carrying with him that may.
You’ll see a man on a mission and if you happen to be lucky enough to stop and chat with him, or run into him at one of his speaking engagements you will learn how he is making a difference.
By now we have all seen the 22 push up challenge, which has done a great deal to raise awareness for this unfortunate situation where our service members feel so much despair that they feel suicide is the only answer. Greg has a new challenge that is changing the game.
Battle Buddy Challenge
The Battle Buddy Challenge is a simple one that all of us can do for anyone we know whether they are a veteran or not. The Battle Buddy Challenge only requires a little bit of empathy. The same empathy that we as a society seem to be losing by losing that human connection because we have reduced our interactions with friends and family to just clicking the like button.
We all have that friend, or family member that we know may be having a tough time with things at some point in their life. The Battle Buddy Challenge is Greg challenging you to be a good human. Even if it isn’t someone you may be close too, pick up the phone and give them a call. About anything. It doesn’t need to be about the “issue” they are having. It doesn’t require you to have a degree in psychology. It just requires you to reach out and say Hi.
Greg’s passion for his challenge is infectious. Just hearing him speak about it fills you with an energetic felling that you won’t be able to describe. It is something all of us can do, and should do. This past year should have been a lesson for us all that missing that human connection has an effect on us.
Don’t send a text or an email, pick up the phone and call.
Hear each others voices. Hear each others laughter. That real connection has an effect on our emotions and the simple fact of knowing someone was thinking of you and wanted to hear your voice can change your day.
I used to hear from my brother in law almost daily. I didn’t realize how important that was to me until it never happened again. The days leading up to his funeral were very difficult for me, not just because I was going to one of my best friends funerals, but because I couldn’t even remember what we talked about that last time he called. I spent several days locked in the prison of my own mind struggling with that.
Make The Call
It wasn’t until we were sitting with our family at his services that it finally dawned on me. We didn’t talk about anything. The same nothing we talked about almost every day. We talked about how the truck had a flat tire, and how one of his daughters jumped her bike on the biggest ramp ever, and how my son was driving me crazy this week because he’s just like Me when we were his age.
You see its the nothing that we talk about that connects us more than the big stuff sometimes. Just bullshittin with your buddy. That human connection.
Jason was good at making the connection. He called me 99% of the time. I never had to call him, because it was almost a guarantee that my phone would ring at some point and it would be him. It’s been 2 years since we hung up the phone for the last time and every day I long for the phone to ring with his voice on the other side of the call. I often wonder if things would have been different if I had picked up the phone and called him for a change. I’ll never know, and I’ll never be ok with that.
If you accept Greg’s Battle Buddy Challenge, you may never have to be in my shoes, or Gregs.
Make the call.
Don’t forget to say hi to your neighbors on your next camping trip, those single serving friends might just change your life.