Editor's Note: Just a few days after I wrote this, a friend of mine, and someone very close to my younger brothers, passed away. He was a talented musician and a great kid. I can't tell you how many times I would hang out with him and come away with my face literally sore from laughing so hard. He has spent the night at my house, he was at both my younger brother's weddings, he's played marathon games of Risk with my children, he has hung out at my parent's house on Christmas Eve. He cracked us up for hours during Cheyenne Day two years ago here in Wyoming - he was always laughing and if you were around him, you were too. He is going to be missed, by me and even more so by those who knew him better than I. Rest in Peace Nate Dickinson, aka "Njal".
A man who I have trained with numerous times, a man who is in the best shape of any guy his age that I know – a man who has smoked me in workouts and lifts incredible amounts of weight – suffered a stroke this week.
It came as quite a shock to me as I’m sure it did to his family and friends. He appears to have done it right – the guy is shredded, works out all the time. Roy Knapp is one of those badass older dudes who inspires you to keep working hard and never make excuses, especially about your age. I hope he recovers fully and can get back to the gym one day – and if anyone can, he will.
It was a reminder for me – the bell can toll for you when you least expect it. We are guaranteed nothing – your next breath is not a certainty. It’s cliché to say things like “live like there’s no tomorrow” or “live every day like it’s your last.” None of us actually does this – it’s not practical. If there were no tomorrow I sure as shit wouldn’t have come to work today. But we can live closer to this lifestyle than most of us currently do.
Think about how you would spend your last day, if you knew it would be your last, or if you knew your life may be drastically different afterward? Who would you spend it with? What activities would you want to do? Where would you want to be? The answers to these questions, while not practical on a daily basis necessary – can and should be a guide for you on a longer term scale.
Spend more time with those people you have on your list. Do more of the things you would put on your list. Travel to those destinations – you may have more than one day – but you are dying. Every day that passes is one that takes you closer to the grave. Will you take your last breath knowing that you left it all on the field? Will your thoughts be filled with regrets or memories of a life lived to the fullest?
More than a year ago, I lost a friend, training partner and competition teammate. His death seriously rattled me – and was one of the main motivating factors in me setting out to change my life. John Taylor was 18 years old when he died. He was one of those kids who you knew would accomplish great things – and he did. It wasn’t going to college, it wasn’t serving in the armed forces, or getting married and having children. He changed my life, forever – and I know many people who were privileged enough to have known him, feel the same way. His death made me realize we don’t know how long we have –it pushed me to live a fuller life, to chase everything I ever wanted, because I felt guilty that someone with so much promise had died, while I remained here, taking breaths he would never take – and doing NOTHING with my life. I know for a fact I am not the only one his death impacted in this way. John changed people’s lives - most of us can only hope that when we go, we can say the same thing.
You don’t have to live every day like it’s your last. You have to live every day giving respect to those who aren’t here anymore. You owe it these people to go hard in the paint- to believe in every dream you’ve ever had. You owe it to Roy and John and anyone else in your life who lived or lives by example – to go chase something great today. Pattern your life around the things on that list you made – and become the kind of person like John or Roy who inspires others to do the same.
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