NOTE: I will edit this for a final time once I am home and feel completely recovered from this flu.
It seems every time I go on some sort of extended vacation away from home I end up knocking on death’s door only to come out a new person. This time, while in Rome, I contracted some sort of respiratory virus mixed with influenza. It’s weird when things like this happen. It seems like every time I get stripped down to my bare bones, my core, and I become totally “vulnerable” — I’m predicting this word to be the buzz word of 2017 — I find that I come to conclusions that there would be no other way to come to.
Getting sick overseas on an extended trip is akin to being in the hurt locker in an ultramarathon race or any sort of endeavor where you are forced to face your demons. You get stripped raw of any ego and you fall into this state of moving forward and wanting to survive — I don’t have overseas health coverage. And in that state of moving forward and wanting to survive (whether it be battling a high fever in a foreign country, counting how many “days and a wakeup” until you’re home from a combat zone, or racing to the finish line of any sort of race) shit will arise, and whatever arises, arises.
At the peak of one of my fevers on this trip I came to all these conclusions and thoughts percolated into my sick brain, such as “Why? What am I doing with my life? What is this all for?” and “Do I really want to go to Graduate School right after my undergrad? Or would I rather just go experience the world and live life for a little bit and possibly come back in my mid 30’s or early 40’s, if at all?” I came to all these conclusions about opinions and beliefs I have in life.
When I’m stripped raw, and I get through the fire, I usually come out with some pretty good conclusions on what to do with my life and the direction I want to take. I thought about my past years of training for ultramarathons and the sacrifices that I have made. I thought about where I could have done better. Where I was being lazy. I thought about myself in 2012 when I didn’t know shit about ultra’s and how much I’ve progressed as a person and as a runner because of the sacrifices I have made. Sure I’ve made mistakes. I’ve let vampires into my life. And it seemed I let Count Dracula slip in unnoticed almost until it was too late. But I broke out the garlic, the cross, and I stabbed that bitch in his fucking heart — please excuse my french. Essentially, since I’ve taken running to this next level, I’ve faced obstacle after obstacle. And with each obstacle I’ve faced and overcome I have become stronger as a person — I know that’s a cliché but it’s true. I’m not a person of regret and I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through in life upon anyone, but I also won’t play the fucking victim card either. That gives those demons and vampires power. So I am just me. Bobby. Who has been through the fucking wringer and still stands proud and tall, even if it’s a five foot six sort of tall.
When it’s all said and done and the violin player plays the last song and you look back at the life you’ve lived, you’ll find that the moments of struggle are where the most growth occurs. As in, if you can get through the crucible of your mind, or “Jedi Training” as I like to refer to it as, you can tap into that inner soul which has been there the whole time. It’s a hard concept to explain, but it’s personified in happy people in the shittiest places on the planet. The best metaphor I can think of is a diamond coming from coal.
Another conclusion I came to while going through this epic saga of European travel is that I don’t honestly believe in the concepts of being an “adult” or being “mature” anymore, mainly because you can’t quantify it with science. How mature are our leaders of this Country? Or how about a 2nd grade school teacher who plays with their class? Or a father singing songs with his children in his car? Or a parent who beats their children but still loves them deeply? I think what makes some an adult, or what proves maturity is how well you manage (a) pain, (b) sleep, and (c) hunger. If you can maintain under sever pain, sleep deprivation, and hunger, then you’re a fucking adult. But that doesn’t make you one for ever. Even if you can manage those three, being an “adult” still falls into this constant ebb and flow state. You don’t just become an adult forever. It’s a state of mind that comes and goes. Bill Clinton became the President of The United States, had a child, had a beautiful intelligent wife, all the things a man could ever want, and still jizzed on some interns jacket. It’s an ebb and flow state. One moment you’re an adult, the next you’re not. You don’t gain or lose it forever. A 9 year old can prove to be more mature than a 71 year old man — think Ana Nicole Smith. I digress. Where was I? Ohh yea. Conclusion from being in the pain cave.
So this trip was supposed to be a lifetime dream trip of skiing and mountain running. Which none of which really came to fruition. I was riddled with injuries that seem to have a phantom nature to them. Even if there was powder or the conditions were good for mountain running — which they were, I was injured and couldn’t play. Old niggles and nags from the Army topped with serious life stressors from school and what not made it just about impossible to walk in Chamonix without great pain. So I had to learn to relax. This trip went from some sort of envisioned athletic adventure that I conjured up at the beginning of the school year into a fucking shit show turned into spiritual quest where I would discover the true nature of God, Enigma, People, Society, and the World as a Whole. I’m not a firm believer in God, but I do find a lot of the stuff that people talk themselves into believing pretty fascinating. I believe in some sort of higher power, but more or less so represented in Nature. As in, I don’t believe anything that was written by a man who claims to be a surrogate of God. I’m sorry. I guess that falls into one of my simple rules of what not to talk about. But I do somewhat believe that Nature is God personified. As in, I don’t believe much of what anyone has to say when they are “certain” of it. Not even Scientists. Scientist at least air on the side of doubt, as in, they believe their theory is best until proven otherwise. So I just can’t believe anyone who says that some book is god’s playbook for us humans. I don’t think you need a playbook to know how to live a good life. Especially in the crazy world that we live in. And especially one that is thousands of years old and has been lost in translation for hundreds of years. I digress again.
Basically, this trip went from some sort of idealized winter adventure into an introspective 30 day journey into the mind. When I can’t run or Ski, I end up trying to fix or solve the world. Which isn’t good for anyone, especially my family. Because I’ll probably be calling you up at God knows what hour asking about how hard it is to get into law school with aspirations of wanting to change the system or becoming some sort of civil rights activist. Which might be one of my callings in life. But not for some time. I need to chill out and run and enjoy my athleticism while I have it.
So yea. I basically went deep deep deep into my minds caverns and drew out a lot of demons and ghosts that I didn’t know were even there. And I exercised them out. Some people call that “kicking up sediment.” In short. This trip went from an athletic dream into a modern day exorcism. Which I’m fine with. December really is a chill out month, not really good for running, nor skiing as it is a true Holiday month. So I got most the demons I had in me out. I did a deep inventory of what makes me happy and what doesn’t. And along the way, I did tests and experiments to test these beliefs. I’m a pretty spiritual dude, but far more scientific when it comes to my own body and mind. So I would test out old thought patterns and behaviors. Listen to old music I used to listen to, read old authors that used to fire me up, and listen to old accidental mentors that I once revered. And just like that. I felt like I had cured myself. I had freed my mind from my mind. Which I don’t know if I would have if I had been mobbing through the alps like a man possessed — I’m a half glass type of guy.
So I’ve gone from country to country, place to place, and sure, the scenery changes, but people seem to stay the same. Old women are old women just about everywhere. Old men, the same. Children are children. Young adolescent boys are crazy as always. Young adolescent girls will be calm and collected everywhere. And basically. Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. Couples are the same all over. People have pets all over. Outliers will be outliers. Fishermen will be fishermen. Skiers are the same all over the world. Same with runners. New or experienced, it doesn’t matter. People are people. That’s been one big observation. Now, from the communication theory class I just took might argue — actually I’m sure it would argue — that this is all conditioned from either TV or culture. But the deal seems to be the same regardless of how you cut the cookie. Like there just seems to be a cookie-cutter mentality to human beings on this planet. Sure, no one is identical, not even identical twins. But people are the same all over. The only outlier to this would be isolated tribes deep in the Amazon rainforest from what I can hypothesize, which would play into a subset of communication theories stating that we are pretty much a copycat entity. We tell narratives that are being passed down throughout history. Which could get real heady real quick. So I’ll just put it out like this. Before I ever took a communication course, I came to a conclusion over the past few years that all we are doing by speaking and communicating is that we are telling this age old story. And each day it gets more old and more complex. I don’t know if time is real or not since it is based off of us rotating around the sun which gets real heady real quick, but what I’m getting at is that with each passing moment, the story, the narrative of this planet, this cosmos, just gets more complex, but no less complex than previous history. Another way I could state that is that the narrative just becomes more novel. This will probably be something I think about for another half decade or so before I really have it buttoned up. And step back a few thousand years ago, it was still a complex story, but people weren’t smoking cigarettes and driving cars or watching T.V.. Instead, it was a different narrative, a different novelty. No more complex, and no more less complex. It was just a story. As in, the clothes and mannerisms a thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, or even 50 years ago are no more or less complex than they are today. It’s just a story. So are we unique in 2017? Sure. But no more or less unique than an armadillo’s narrative 40,000 years ago. Or an ancient civilization such as the mayans dating back tens of thousands of years ago. It’s just a narrative. I guess animals don’t play into communication theory, but I would argue that they do in a cosmic sense. As in, if you were an alien observer, why would humans get more attention then an armadillo or a gorilla? If I were an alien observer, I’d be impressed with all life. I digress again.
So yea, people are the same everywhere. That’s for sure. The only thing that changes with time is the narrative. I feel like I could be a certified time traveler with all the shit I’ve been through now. I feel like I’ve done the training. Haha, now that’s true a digression. Beam me up, Scotty!
So after becoming deathly ill in Rome and hitting a mental wall. I started to look at what brings me joy in life. And I can tell you one thing. I don’t think it would be studying for the BAR and getting stressed out of my fucking gills about that. How many hours would I get for outside time? How many guys want it more than me? Probably a lot. So I sort of lived that idea up and let it die. And then I thought to myself. What would be my fucking absolute dream job? Like the absolute dream? Well for sure it would be to be some sort of professional alpinist / ultrarunner. Like nothing else. And a coach to pair with that. Like a hands on coach. Not some online stuff, unless people wanted that. So then I got my gears going on that a little bit after my fever finally died down and my sick brain went away and all my frustrations weaned off and I thought to myself. “What’s keeping you from progressing into that?” I’ve got some injuries that I need to address for racing, and I still don’t know if I could hang with some of these new elites, but I could at least put it all on the fucking line and give it my all. And as far as being an alpinist, I thought to myself, well, one way to do that is to become a professional certified mountain guide. A thought I had YEARS back before I hopped on this epic saga which has been my life for the past 4 years. It seems that I’ve finally come back to my senses of who I am at my heart, Bobby, I just had to slay some fucking vampires that were sucking my life force from me. So then I thought “Well to be a professional mountain guide, I’d have to have a serious background in it, like I’d need some dedicated years for AMGA to take me in as a student” Which doesn’t scare me at all and sounds much more fulfilling and enriching to me than getting lost and beat down by the court system or by spending more time and money on journalism school which might not ever pan out, where if I dedicated my life to a specialty like the AMGA route I envisioned 4 years back, I could easily become a journalist with publications I trust and love. And as far as ultrarunning goes for me, I’m going to train and race as hard as possible. I don’t believe in over training or any of that nonsense. I believe that everyone has their own limitations and mine only seem to get setback by stupid mistakes and not over training. I plan on training and racing as hard as humanly possible and without the aid of performance enhancing drugs such as Mexican supplements or what have you. This year I’m going to get my nutrition dialed and get recovery down to a science. I’m going to try out being a vegetarian and get rid of meat all together to see how that helps in recovery. I’m not afraid of a 140-180 mile week, and in fact, that sounds fun to me. You just have to be smart and wise about it and not let down-putting energy into your life and only allow uplifting. Positive vs. Negative energy. This was a lesson I learned long ago, but since my father passed away it seems that I let energy vampires back in. Which is what this trip has been sort of all about. Getting back to my roots as a person. Going hard or going the fuck home. I’m not here to try to do my best. I’m here to do my fucking best. It’ll settle down a little bit.
Like. It came to me so clear. It was unreal. I had been tossing around all these ideas and trying to figure my life out from so many different angles. And then I was just like. What would you do if money wasn’t an issue or if you weren’t concerned with the curriculum. Like, regardless of difficulty, if you could wake up with any career in the world, what would it be? A mountain guide, 100%. An alpinist. No looking back whatsoever. None. The only thing that intimidates me isn’t even the learning curve. It was just this mental trap I had myself in. Like. I wasn’t fully committed. And then, bam. It just hit me. Like, would I rather go through school and do that for years on end more? Or would you go rather hang out with your fucking tribe, Bobby? Like get real, dude, go be in the fucking mountains. 100%.
Basically, it’s been quite an awakening trip. After quite an awakening year. And now I have some simple things ahead of me to do. Which is what I will state in this [edited] List of New Years Resolutions.
New Years Resolutions (edited):
-Get back to pre-calculus level over the course of the year. Don’t go overboard, but get your mind back sharp with math which transfers into other areas of critical thought.
-Read one book a week — preferably one fiction then one non fiction on a leader, alternating each week. 4 books a month, 2 non-fiction, 2 fiction; NOTE: If you pick a big book, that’s fine, just try and get it done sooner than letter and maybe follow it up with a smaller book. 52 in a year is the overall goal.
-Switch to a flip phone
-Get straight A’s in all courses.
-Move out and live in Truck during summer and explore United States.
-Volunteer 8 hours a month, 2 hours a week. All year. Begin when you return home. (Trail work counts.)
-Each month conduct an experiment.
-One blog post a week. 52 blog posts by the end of the year. Seinfeld it if you have to; meaning, it can be about absolutely nothing. NOTE: Each Week post what you have been listening to and also what articles you’ve read which you like and also to what you’ve watched or listened to what;ve you liked as well.
-Join a school club.
-Volunteer at Hardrock 100.
-Volunteer at Wasatch 100 if you can figure that out.
-Volunteer at Western States 100.
~When body recovers, do races that interest you. I’m thinking about the Skyrunner Ultra Series.