In light of recent life events; and the potential for an endless amount of possibilities, I've been feeling a rush of emotions that can hardly be explained through words; but since I've been wanting to write a letter to the Community of Carson City, MI, and all those that have played major roles in my life throughout the years; I'd like to talk about thankfulness. I'll be honest, life has been pretty crazy lately, but the thing that stands out the most is just how THANKFUL I feel these days.
Twenty days ago, to the day, I woke up planning to knock out some last minute preparations for the Bikepacking trip my brother and I were headed on, over in Europe; that was set to depart April 10th. Only to have found myself back here in Mid-Michigan, on this day: April 26th, 2016; talking to you; while my good buddy Joe is trekking…better yet, riding, his way around Europe. And although that may seem like a disappointing statement to many, I couldn't be more happy with where I'm at right now. Sure, I do wish I were over in Europe with my buddy; tearing up the continent, and seeing more of what the world has to offer, but it goes deeper than that, and let me tell you why.
Just about a month ago I made the trip home from California to visit family for a bit, and meet my biological grandfather for the first time; all before heading to Europe. You know, one last good bye before I head into the life unknown kind of thing. After about five days in Michigan my buddy and I loaded the mini van, and made our way back across the country to beautiful California. During which we probably averaged a top speed of 50 miles an hour because the tires were bad and we felt like making it home in one piece. They even shut down highway 80 due to the recent snow storm, where we hung out at a truck stop just outside of Cheyenne, WY for 6 hours. It was great...but that’s not my point. A few days after arriving back in the Bay, I made the decision to buy a train ticket from Emeryville, CA to Union Station in Chicago. I decided to come home for the summer to spend time getting to know, and hanging out with family; mainly my sickly grandfather that I previously knew next to nothing about, as well as simply being available to hang and share moments with the family I already know, and have. So just two days before Joe took the 10-hour flight to Norway, I boarded train #6, the "California Zephyr," on a 54-hour trip across the country, and through some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. From there I jumped on a bus and rode another 6 hours to Ann Arbor; where another good friend, so graciously assisted me in getting all the way back to my parents place.
Now; I'm thankful for many reasons but one of the main reasons as of late, is because I was home in time to see my grandfather cross to the other side. I came home anticipating, better yet expecting, him to get better; but he didn't. And I don't mean that to sound sad, because believe me it's not. I believe in celebrating his life, and I am extremely thankful for the time I was able to share with him. Sure, I definitely miss being able to pick up the phone and call him, or even miss the letters we have exchanged over the years, but the thankfulness I possess in what he gave me in such a short time, makes it feel like I've known him for a lifetime. Not only that, new family members have been identified, and the joy that has come from getting to know them is unexplainable.
Now that you know where I'm at these days, I'd like to actually thank you for everything you've done in my life. Truly, I realize that I am where I am today, in many respects, to the people that have been apart of my life in the last 25 years. It is you who encouraged me to dream big dreams, to never give up and quit; not even when it gets a little uncomfortable and the end result seems far off and fuzzy. Just keep chipping away. Incrementally, and over time, anything can be accomplished; and it is you who have helped teach me that. You have also taught me that respect, integrity, honesty, trust, character, hard-work, and simply being a good man, are not qualities of the past, but still something to strive for even today; and contrary to what the media, society, and those of us that are simply confused in life try to say, I've learned that life is beautiful; people are innately good; we should treat every individual we meet the same way we wish to be treated; and that we create our own destiny. I no longer believe in the word failure. When I hear that someone "failed," I simply think of the cheap lesson that individual was able to acquire through that life experience. There is no such thing as failure; simple as that!
I've learned that even in a world where the divorce rate sounds more like the grade of a failing exam, chivalry is not dead. There are still men out there fighting the good fight. I've learned that success is more than a one time accomplishment; rather it is a lifetime of opportunities being walked through, no matter how small or grand, and being able to share the joy received from life, with those around you. I've learned that ultimately this is a journey and we are all in it together; like it or not, so why not make the most of every darn minute. They truly are precious.
So, when I originally set out to write a thank you letter to the community, and family that raised me, I was soon hit with the realization that I would never be able to truly thank everyone in my life, that deserved a genuine thank you. And for that I just want to thank anyone who has ever beat me in a wrestling match; pushed me beyond what I thought my physical body could handle; encouraged me in times of need; shown love toward me in one of its many forms; donated money and/or time to my wrestling ventures; helped me laugh through life's darkest moments; or simply shown a smile in passing. I now see that I am who I am, and I am where I am, as a direct result of the time we've shared together, throughout this journey.
I'm proud to sit here and tell you how thankful I am, because I believe we live in a world that speeds along too fast and too busy; we rarely take a moment to appreciate where we are in life, or take the time to thank the people that have helped us get there. So basically I just wanted to thank you for being you, and for being open and helpful in my various times of need!
Until next time!
P.s. I'm starting to dream again…and it involves a van, a mountain bike, and the open road. But we can talk about that later!
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