How many people can say “I have found my life’s purpose”? It took me 42 years, but here i am, finally understanding what my contribution to this world is. Did it happen by accident? Well, it happened because of an accident. I was paralyzed in a motorcycle wreck in 2001. The desire to get out on the trail led me to get my bike. My bike is how i get out on the trail. I have run into trouble on the trail. Now i am mapping trails for adaptive riders. Boom! There it is.
In recent years, I have struggled to get up in the morning, feeling semi-purposeless with little direction. Now, i find myself at dinner, thinking about getting back to work early the next day…one trail at a time.
Incorporating my personality into it all has been an interesting part. You see, i sort of missed my calling as a thespian. My life took a turn when i decided to play football instead of following my heart, which pulled me towards running and theatre. I did not have the parenting that equipped me with the tools to find the true man within. It was a free-for-all, directionless survival. For most young people, the most powerful influence is whatever breeds expectance, being cool, having friends, people liking you. There are a select few who seem to have a preprogrammed nature that compels them to rise above all that nonsense, but I was not one of those. Never have been. Whatever i do, i need to work very hard for and, without direction as a young man, i just followed the current.
As i turned the corner on the road to manhood, in my middle school years, i started fighting at school and with my younger brother. Early in life, my father had shown me that anger and violence were the way to solve problems and i followed suit. When football came into my life, that all ended abruptly. I gave it my heart, winning Most Dedicated every season. I took pride in my role as a special teams head hunter and third down specialist. My one claim to fame occurred when Michael Pittman, our star running back who ended up playing the game of his life in Super Bowl XXXVII, came up to me after practice one day and said, “I’m kinda afraid of you, McGhee.”
Football was good for me. It gave me an outlet for my aggression, but i was injured a lot and i rode the bench my junior and senior years on varsity, despite having the most sacks on the team (I had to throw that in there). My body was just not built for it, a lanky stride and slow feet obvious evidence that my aspirations of playing college football were far fetched and high school was the end of the road for this sport in my life.
I could run though and i really enjoyed drama class. If only i had the parental guidance to help me see, understand and accept these things. What would my life look like if i had chosen to run on the cross country team and had joined the drama club?
Fast forward two and a half decades and i am making videos for adaptive mountain bikers. If you have watched any of these, you will see that I narrate some of the story from a studio in my garage, but recently, I have been watching other mountain biker YouTube channels in an effort to learn how to do things the best i can. I started trying to do the same as them, talking to the camera on rides, narrating my experience as I go, eliminating the need for a post narration element. Then, i caught myself, the inner thespian clawing his fabulous way out of a pickle. “Not this time!” he claimed. I am different than they are. My videos are more than just mountain biking and they totally have an acting element to them. I get to be myself, goofy in front of the camera and have fun with it.
I have found a way to be fully myself with a clear direction and this gets me up in the morning with excitement, something my life has been missing for a while. Also, the tech nerd in me gets to learn about video editing and gadgets and cool computer stuff. And of course, the inner runner gets to get out on the trail as part of all this too. Not literally running, but I am running in my heart, the way i can.