Last Friday afternoon, I set out for a little walk around campus (the Florida-game tailgates, specifically) with 3000 “bthob.com” cards and 500 photos of Bonfire 2011’s Last Shift. I meant to talk Bonfire or at least (re)introduce it to everyone I possibly could. Friday was the warm-up; got the lay of the land, met some folks, said and heard a few words, and had some long conversations. I wrapped up in time to make it to Yell with the Red Pots, their last Yell Practice before it all hits the fan. They were well motivated, enough to keep me going for a trip to close down the Bird.
But then Saturday became a whole other deal. Between 6:30 am and kickoff, I was privileged to meet thousands and thousands of Aggies. Of these, hundreds took the time to have a conversation. The sum total of the weekend was every one of 500 photos gone, most with some expression of “WHOOP!” or “I had no idea” or “sh******t…” (one of my favorites). Only a handful of cards were left. Out of all of these interactions, most were outright supportive, all were at least positive. Every single one.
I figured I walked 10 miles. But then on Sunday I woke nearly immobile. There was no way I should feel like this after just 10 miles, I thought. So I used my cycling ride-mapper to figure up my mileage, and when I did my condition suddenly made sense. In 24 hours, with only a few hours sleep in the middle, I had walked 30+ miles. More than a marathon.
In my view, this doesn’t say a damned thing about me. (Hell, for all I knew or intended I took stroll. And nobody sees an old couple at the mall at 9 am and thinks “red ASS!”) It says everything about the power and influence found in motivated Aggies. This weekend, Aggies helped me take a (very) long walk. But it was one taken in comfortable old-people shoes. Along the way, I was treated to a refreshing cold brew here and there, and some fried gator.
But starting this weekend, students begin many much-longer walks with heavier burdens than an arm-load of cards. They’ll carry more than the trees that dig into their weary shoulders, they’ll carry the Spirit of Aggieland. They’ll travel heavy-footed in unforgiving steel-toed boots. And they’ll dine on dirt and hot water.
Maybe it’s pride, or maybe they’re a little preoccupied with the task at hand. Whatever it is, they don’t ask for a thing. And that’s why I do. Keep these Aggies in mind this season. And know that every “Gig ’em!”, every appreciative handshake, every bit of support verbal, material, monetary or otherwise… all of these expressions of motivation and enthusiasm are powerful, powerful things. They keep these young minds and bodies sharp, proud, and safe.