The new story of Marcelo Birmajer: 30 kilometers

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On April 17, renamed as Day of Loyalty Walktogether with my friends and colleagues Gonzalo Sánchez, Gonzalo Garcés and Miguel Wiñazki, we covered 30 kilometers: from the train station of the Municipality of Tigre in the province of Buenos Aires, to Radio Mitre, to Mansilla and Ecuador, CABA, where the four of us participated in the program Second thought.

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For operational reasons, Wiñazki joined us at Puente Saavedra. I will come back to this digression later.

The purpose of the walk was not philanthropic or particularly charitable. I found out that Sánchez and Garcés attended the same gym and judged it an affront to my dignity. Did they consider me an ancient subject unable to face the rigors of the dumbbell and the trapeze?

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That unjustified feeling of exclusion – which I romantically narrated more than twenty years ago and republished in this same column last Saturday, rewriting the tale of Sleeping Beauty – motivated me to launch my reckless challenge: to travel that tortuous and interminable path that motorists embark on highway, General Paz, Panamericana.

Part of my inspiration wasn’t Abebe Bikila, the great Ethiopian marathon runner who ran barefoot, nor Cooper the one taking the test, nor the fickle doctors who advise you to walk today and yesterday locked you up at home, but one of the worst killers ever : Mao Tse Tung.

The Great Helmsman, as his idolaters remember him, from China and the rest of the planet (there is never a shortage of submissives to great criminals), in 1966, to demonstrate his political and physical validity (like a map), at 73 years of age, swam 13 and a half kilometers on the Yangtze River.

In the five years preceding the river show – in practice he made the iron – about fifty million Chinese had died of starvation due to the economic policy promoted by Mao known as the Great Leap Forward; and in the same year of his pretentious odyssey, launched The Cultural Revolution, a totalitarian nonsense which ended up ruining in the soul what it had already destroyed in the bodies.

Yet, on the verge of my material and spiritual decline, I decided to challenge my two companions, respectively ten years younger than me, to swim thirty kilometres, more than twice as far as Mao swam in the Yangtze, inspired by that senile love

So that, as many thinkers have already pointed out throughout the paradoxical history of humanity, the highly memorable experiences – undoubtedly the walk was – they don’t necessarily come from a healthy desire.

It’s true that we’ve drank here and there on the whim of thirst, but we don’t strictly abide by the moisturizing commandment. Instead, we drink two glasses of wine each when we sit down for lunch, an opportunity where we were scammed, paying an extravagant amount. But this is sushi of another cost.

What I’m getting at, as I said, is that health advice has proven to be too swingy to fit scientific metrics. For example, during the covid pandemic we were medically forced not to leave the house, ergo: not to walk. With the same energy with which we are now recommended otherwise, the same individuals.

I very much fear that in some aspects of existence human beings are left to the discretion of their own decisions, with no greater responsibility than their own for themselves.

We should never have been compulsorily locked up at home. And one of the retrievable lessons of the walks for me is that there are spaces where the individual can decide their own destiny, at their own pace and in the discrete fullness of their abilities.

The appearance of Wiñaski, the philosopher, at Puente Saavedra was a refreshing reminder of the value of the agora and of social gatherings. Each of the members of the group brought their own testimonies and reflections, coined in the kilometers traveled individually or in a state of introspection.

Next to the wall of the presidential residence of Olivos We remember the first president’s day; and in Piazza Favaloro, in Avenida Libertador, we pretended that my young companions were cheering me up. Wiñaski, with his wise and calm tone, brought us news of civilization.

When we crossed the Pacific, for different reasons we wondered if we were really going to make it. Everyone faced their own fear and limit. Maybe we hadn’t timed it right and couldn’t be late for the schedule. Perhaps we had been overly confident in our endurance.

It is normal to remember this every human decision is a bet, but free will is based on that uncertainty. If the results were guaranteed, we would be another species. Probably more like Artificial Intelligence.

Finally, we have successfully conquered our own threshold. Everyone drew individual lessons, some probably impossible to share. But for everyone it was unforgettable.

In 1970, Fidel Castro compulsively and coercively mobilized nearly the entire working population of Cuba to harvest 10 million tons of sugar; in its much less bloody version of The Great Leap Forward.

It also failed: 8.5 million tons broke, and the dictator publicly acknowledged it, in one of his speeches, as a defeat. “I’d rather call it a defeat than a setback”he acknowledged. It would have been the perfect turning point to step down from power, have free elections and walk away. 30 kilometers, towards freedom.

Source: Clarin

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