Rick took a road trip with his son to go visit some internet friends.
They left Michigan on Saturday and went to Mammoth Cave and Lookout Mountain and had pizza in Nashville and ice cream in Alabama and tacos with David (Day #168).
“The best part of this trip, besides quality time with my son in the car, was the tour of Dothan, Alabama. It was pretty cool.”
Rick has driven about 1,900 miles to get to Springfield and end their trip with a game of catch before driving another 660 miles and returning home.
“Except I forgot to pack my glove,” he confessed.
The only other time I’ve met Rick in person was on a road trip. In 2015, just a few weeks before I broke my ankle, we met at Wrigley Field to watch the Royals beat the Cubs. Rick had ticket connections and drove to Chicago with his dad for the game. Jamie and I drove up the night before for a long weekend together at the end of the school year. The four of us watched Alcides Escobar hit a home run on the first pitch and I took home a souvenir cup.
Five years ago, Rick and I originally connected through an online experiment started by Jon Acuff.
In the summer of 2013, Jon Acuff emailed tens of thousands of people and invited them on an adventure. Passports and machetes were mentioned as possible necessary supplies; I had neither. I signed up anyway. This was the beginning of The Start Experiment, an online community of dreamers who encouraged one another to take tangible steps toward accomplishing their goals, living lives of audacious courage and hope along the way. This community dared to laugh in Fear’s face and earnestly celebrated any and every success. When a Start Conference was created, this community raised thousands of dollars so strangers could meet in person. Rick went to the conference; I didn’t. This community was the internet operating at its very best; strangers taking risks to connect and share and create, discovering joy along the way. Because of this community, books have been written and new businesses created and trips have been taken around the world and friendships formed all across the country.
My initial goal, posted with all seriousness, was to play catch with the President. While that still hasn’t happened (#43 sent me a rejection letter earlier this year), I at least made it into the White House with President Obama and the Royals. I will gladly trade a game of catch with the President for a Royals World Series White House celebration.
Rick’s initial goal was to blog twice a week.
“It was complete failure. I didn’t get anywhere close. Twice a week never happened.”
One of the lessons of the project is not to let failure stop you. Learn. Keep dreaming. Lean into the encouragement of friends. Set new goals. Keep moving forward.
“I do want to write again, but I don’t know what it looks like. My words went on vacation and my creative brain went hunting for them. They’ve yet to return.”
Rick has also had surgeries on both shoulders, a congenital issue with the formation of the bone.
“I hope to never have shoulder surgery again.”
I offered Rick his choice of gloves and we walked to the park, enjoying the cooler temperature and the thick humidity. A fan of the Tigers, we both commiserated about the end of the season for our teams. He has yet to declare a team to cheer this postseason. So we played catch and Rick talked about his football days as well as life with kids in college.
I saved the most important question for last.
What have you learned from the Start Experiment to present day?
“If I want to, if I put my mind to it, there’s nothing I can’t do. Which is cool, but also scary. The question is, ‘Do I really want to do it?’”