I love people who inspire others to do the right thing. I love people who preach peace even when it seems the rest of the world derives pleasure in war. My new favorite person is Reza Baluchi.
He's been running all his life, running for freedom, running for peace.
It started when he ran away from home at the age of eight. Later he ran away from his homeland, Iran, and spent seven years on a bicycle, pedaling 49,700 miles across 55 countries.
It's been nearly 10 years since Reza Baluchi escaped from Iran. He has run across the United States twice and around its perimeter once with the mission: to spread a message of world peace.
Baluchi plans to begin his next extended run in Israel and finish atop the highest peak on earth -- Mount Everest. His route will take him through the Middle East, including Iran. He'd be going home for the first time since escaping on his bike.
Why he started it all? "I got tired of having no freedom," he said. "I would wear a t-shirt and they would stop me. I'd grow out my hair and they'd make me cut it. I travelled out of the country with the cycling team and never came back."
Baluchi grew up in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, the youngest of eight children including a brother permanently traumatized by his service in the Iran-Iraq war. His family barely made a living from their rice farm. He would run seven miles to school, and back home, every day. He ran away from home to avoid getting a beating, he ran to work after class each day.
Baluchi ran away from home after upsetting his mother and getting a beating. He fled on foot, running more than 300 miles to Isfahan where he stayed with his aunt and uncle and continued his schooling. Despite his young age, Baluchi helped support that family by working as a mechanic, running another 14 miles to work after class each day. He also ran with the German cycling team and has been running since then on his bicycle helping the people he meets on his way.
"While in Morocco I rode by this old man who had torn-up shoes tied onto his feet," Baluchi said. "I gave him my own shoes and the only $2 I had left. Anything that I had, besides my bike, I would give away."
Nowadays the 40-year-old Baluchi lives in a tent, and spends his days training in Death Valley, California. In February 2013, he plans to begin his next run for peace in Jerusalem -- the trip that will take him back to where it all started.
There’s more happiness in giving than in receiving and I know Reza is the happiest man in the world. I will love to meet him and ask him, Where he gets his strength from? If it was me, I might have giving up a long time ago.
What an adventurous life he’s living…
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” — T.S Eliot
Song of the day- There's hope by India Arie
Thanks so much for reading J