Sitting on a plane to Hawaii and i'll be there for two months, excited...but scared. One by one, crossing items off my bucket list, coming to me in the middle of the night, over and over again, making me sip coffee in the morning as if it were the breath of life, after nights ridden with sleeplessness. A skinless finger tapping me on the shoulder, bidding me come closer, with eery whispers in the dark, until i turn and face it. That's what this has done to me. I need to silence it. I need to make the haunting go away.
It all began in 2003, when i decided i wanted to ski in the XGames. I was going to be great, forgetting that all my life i've been born and bread a quitter. Full of passion, full of ideas, but empty of any sense of what it takes to be the pilot of an inspired life. So i sat down with the grant application and did what i do best: sold myself. "I'm going to be great!" with every intent and a heart full of gold. The Challenged Athletes Foundation did what they do best and changed my life, not in the way you'd think though. They bought me a sitski for $4000 and said "Go get get em kid!" spinning a course that would lead to major catharsis for a young, lost, determined man.
Flashbacks of 7th grade ensue, falling in the grass, faking an asthma attack, during the annual Olympic Games. I don't have asthma. In my 1st period P.E. class i was the fastest, but i was loosing this school wide event to Gaylen Olsen and in trying to keep up with him my lungs began to burst. I had never pushed myself there before and it scared me. I couldn't take it, so i fell in the grass and pretended i couldn't breathe.
When it came to football, i was always the fastest and biggest. My birthday coming just after the age cutoff, i played mostly with kids a year younger and dominated without effort and never had to push myself. When i got to high school, i sat on the sideline most of the time and had my big moment when we played a shitty team for Home Coming. The stands were filled and i heard my name over and over again, announced over the speakers for doing nothing more than tackling a guy much smaller than me.
When it came to training for the XGames, i went all over the world to "train", but when it came down to it, i chose a career in sales instead, seemingly taking the high road, but in reality feeling relief i didn't have to sacrifice my body anymore. The real thing that happened was that sitski brought me to Mammoth, and that is where my life began to change. I went there to "train" because it opened so much earlier that year, but in reality, what that move did was bring me into the presence of Bloody Couloir and we all know how that story ends. This mysterious mountain called to me in the night and i walked out to it, making love atop her, under the full moon, only to awake in a pool of my own urine. Reality striking me so hard, and anger boiling so deep, that i just had to be out there no matter what it cost. Finally, actually fucking doing something and it all started with a sitski bought for me years earlier, immersing me into the lifestyle that would take me to new heights. If you don't know the story, see the movie. (www.dropinproject.com)
I never went to the XGames and don't care. That's not who i am anymore, but after facing death yet again in 2011, i learned what grit is. You see, i had been inured before, it's a normal byproduct of hucking yourself off stuff when you're strapped to a metal contraption, but i had never been sick, not like this. Fevers so bad i had amnesia. So delirious and soaked in sweat, i'd wake up and think i was underwater, screaming "FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!" all alone into the stale night. I was ready to die again, just like that sunday afternoon in 2001 when the warm pavement invited me to sleep forever. I just wanted it all to end so badly that never seeing a sunset again seemed worth it. I wanted to quit...fall into the grass, like the 7th grade...but i awoke from surgery with a renewed fervor.
The human will to survive is a very powerful thing that lives in all of us and we are capable of enduring so much more than what our physical brain tells us. It takes pushing, or being pushed, well passed our perceived threshold to find it. I dangled dangerously close to the end of my rope and found something there. Now, the things haunting me at night present a new hope, something to strive for because i don't want to be one of those people anymore, who says they are going to do all these things and then never does them.
Molokai is calling to me and i must face her or i'll die never knowing. I believe this course was spun before time, but it was a grass roots charity who bought me that sitski and set it all in motion. So now, i'm on this plane. We're about to land and i need to put my computer away. Molokai, here i come and i can't wait for you to test me. Thank you CAF!
It took me three days to recover from this one: Ripping up Mount Baldy with a group of shredding sit-skiers, then nordic skiing out to a yurt in the backcountry, then an 11K x-country ski and then, of course, heli skiing powder all day! I was humbled to say the least, not nearly the skier i used to be, after taking last year off from a near death bought with an internal staph infection, but i managed to focus on my successes instead of giving into my propensity of jumping to the negative. Being surrounded by positive people helps with that and I'm overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for Higher Ground Sun Valley who put this trip together and Sun Valley Heli Ski who busted their asses to make it a reality.
My GoPro was put on the helmet of fellow sit-skier, David Poole, since i was too nervous to deal with anything other than myself at the moment and, luckily, i ended up with a couple shots, which i took a stab at editing into a little video for you. Here it is with some pics from the adventure. Enjoy!
I arrived home a week ago, exhausted from three weeks, literally, living my dream on the road. I think it was the white-knuckling stormy drive from Jackson Hole to Denver that did me in. Trade shows, ski days, long drives, early mornings, late nights, TV shows, radio shows...and lots and lots of hugs.
That's the biggest thing i pulled from this experience. People are moved when they see this film and, every screening, i receive a score of teary-eyed hugs. I have new friends now and feel like i have family in places like Sun Valley, Idaho and Bozeman, Montana. That makes me happy.
It's good to be home though. I missed my dog and smell of the ocean. Its nice seeing all my neighbors at the market and my training for Molokai began this week too. Its no huge formula. In fact, it's quite simple: a regular routine of stretching, paddle or surf five days a week, cardio at the gym five days a week and a little step up in my nutrition, sticking mostly to whole live foods, paying more attention to food combining and minimizing caffeine, sugar and alcohol. That's it.
In a couple weeks, we head to the east coast to share the film with more people, but a few days ago, the DVD's arrived and i feel proud. Things have come a long way in a few years and my hope is that you are "provoked". That's the goal of this whole thing. It's for YOU! If you get a DVD, the proceeds go to getting this film in front of more people and to our next project. Thanks for being our friend!