The more things change, the more they stay the same. In this week Monday Memory, I look back at a post from August 20, 2016. It was about a month before the Killington Beast and I was at a crossroads in life. I needed to remember who I was and why I do what I do. I had many things happening in my life and I forgot to take care of me.
Funny thing is, like a circle, I am back right at the same point where I was when I wrote this. I remember where I was and how I felt. Re-reading this I can feel my emotions coming back and I actually had to stop a few times while reading the past article.
What I do, obstacle course racing is so important to my mind. It pushes me and after you read this memory, you will see why I will always continue to push you.
With that is mind, I give you today’s Monday Memory…Make a Promise to Yourself…Live.
Until the next time, be epic and Keep Playing in the Mud
August 20, 2016 – Make a Promise to Yourself, Live
Happy Weekend to everyone. Sorry, this may be long.
Believe it or not, most times I sit down to write I do not have an idea where I am going until I start typing and things just seem to flow. However, today is not one of those days. I knew all day what I wanted to tell you all about tonight and I hope…it sticks in your mind as some of it has stuck in mine.
Before that, whoever is heading to Runzilla tomorrow or hitting the course somewhere else, have a great time, be safe and crush it. You guys continue to inspire me and push me to be better, try harder and be on a path to success in anything I attempt. When I was younger, I didn’t always and I am lucky I changed.
People ask me all the time why I do obstacle course racing and why I subject myself to the walls, barbed wire, mud, mountains and all the other obstacles that we attack. I never really had a public answer except for that it is fun, it keeps me active and pushes me to do thing and overcome things I never thought I’d be able to do. When I was younger, I never thought I would be doing things like this. Before I go to the past, let me stay in the present.
Over the past few weeks, I have referred to some things going on in my personal life. Basically, my dad is ill. For a while, we didn’t know if there was a tomorrow. I am comfortable talking about this because there is only one person who I know in this groups and that person already found out by walking in on a conversation I was having with my mom. He has heart issues, circulation and breathing issues. He also has an infection and to try to get him back to health they started him on dialysis. Over the past three days, there has been a really good improvement and the corner has been turned. The thoughts of figuring out a eulogy has changed to getting him his own iPad to keep him busy while in the hospital and rehab over the next few weeks.
This is a guy who worked for so many years, countless hours so my family’s life can be as good as it can be. I will always be forever grateful. But in that time, he also neglected his health, his diabetes and basically taking care of himself. He went from a man who at 69 years old STILL played softball with me every weekend to a man that needs help standing up. This makes me angry. It makes me angry because it was selfish of him to not take care of himself and to ignore obvious signs. But, it also inspires me. It inspires me to take care of myself. It inspires me to make sure I go to the doctor’s when I am supposed to and it inspires me to workout, exercise, eat well and be as good of a person as I can be. Every year, our cardiologist (yes, we share one) gives me certain tests to see if I am starting to exhibit any of the symptoms my dad had. I tell him that I don’t have the symptoms and I never will. While I have no idea because you cannot predict your body’s future, I am doing everything in my power to be sure that I take care of this body I live in. I realize that there is only one me and I have to do everything I can to make sure that I am as good as can be for my family, my kids, my friends and for me.
For a while, I was not training or exercising. I spent too much time with my dad or working on my app. But last week, I realized that to be the man I want to be, I had to get back up off my ass and get back into the world. I am not training for CMC or the Beast. I am training for me. I am training for my future and I am training for my life.
Your life will give you every opportunity to succeed. Your life will allow you to overcome anything that you put your mind to. Your life will let you take control. Your life will show you signs along the path and show you where to go. It is up to you to take it. My fraternity had a saying, “You can take the path or look for the ride”. Stop taking the ride. Take the path. Take your life back and succeed.
Now, going back to the past. In 1995, I had heart surgery. I was 24. I had to realize I had an issue drinking. I ate anything and everything and before my surgery I was 300 pounds. I had to lose about 50 before the surgery and I did. Here I am a 24-year-old kid in a hospital room with this old guy who I had never met.
That old guy, I think about every day of my life. His name was Victor Sintiago. I was recovering from my surgery and out of nowhere he said to me, “Kid, I gotta tell you something. I have been watching you all day, people coming in and out to see you and that’s great. Don’t forget it. Here I am, about to have a quadruple bypass and I am alone. No one is here.” I asked him why.
“I have had a good life. I am a jazz musician. I have lived my entire life in bars and clubs. I’ve been eating, drinking and womanizing my entire life and except for my time down in the Big Easy, I never really had somewhere that I called home until now because I’m sick.”
He said all that to me and I remember it like it was this afternoon in my dad’s hospital room.
“Son, live your life. Don’t let things get so out of control that you forget to live. Friends, family, love…(he paused) that is what is important. Take all that with you so that you never, ever have to end up like me…in a hospital bed, dying, all alone”. He asked me to promise him that I would follow his words and I promised. We said our goodbyes that night as we fell asleep as he was scheduled first in the morning. I was awake when he left and he never came back. I never knew what happened to Victor Sintiago…but he made a lifetime of an impression on me in five minutes.
I have never written that down and I have rarely shared that with anyone. I remember his words clearly and while I realized long ago how important they were, sometimes I forget how powerful they are.
I train and I race because I can. I go into my garage at 30 degrees or 90 degrees because I made promise to a guy on a hospital bed in 1995 and continue that promise to my wife, my kids and myself today.
While I love the medals and I love the shirts. I love the good times that I have and I love all of the battle buddies I have ever shared a race with or my Spahten friends I have seen before, during or after a race…I love crossing that finish line. It is not just a race that I am finishing. It is a life I am winning. It is a promise that I am keeping. It is proving to myself that while life may be fragile, the human spirit is not and I can overcome anything.
Make that promise to yourself. Take the words of a dying man and really take to heart what they mean. Those words have shaped the person you all know.
Now…you know why this is so important to me, now you know why I race and now you know why I will continue to push all of you every day I can.
Killington is soon. Let’s live that mountain.