To say a person is successful, in our society, usually means that person has money or power, or both. But what makes a person successful? In the very basic of terms, one who has succeeded is successful. And to “succeed” means to reach a goal. So if my goal is to quietly turn 50 in the recliner, a few pounds heavier than the year before, but still breathing, then I have succeeded and am, by definition, successful. The goal of Team Mountain is to push individuals to the extreme limits, in support of those who are doing the same thing by no choice of their own. Every day, people are rushed to the hospital, people undergo unexpected surgeries, people are connected to their life-saving dialysis machines or undergo another round of chemotherapy. These people are surviving and that is the goal for them. Compare those people now to the man who has a goal to close 100 business deals this year, or to upgrade from a 3 to 5 series BMW – it all seems pointless sometimes. Team Mountain’s ultimate goal is to identify and support those who support others, and to encourage the world to do the same. Most likely, we will never fully succeed.
God gave humans the ability to communicate in order to progress as a people, to move forward, to support one another and advance as a society. Some where, that got off track. Most likely because we are a society of “things,” and if someone else has a “thing,” it means you do not. People have a evolutionary-type gene I believe that pushes us forward. We either advance our goals, obtain money, power, better, more, faster, or we become a less-desirable individual. If we lose our power then we lose our influence over others and all we’re left with is the hope that someone needs us in order to advance their own goal – their own pursuit for power – and so we’re able to ride their coattails for a bit, gaining a little upswing in our life, hopefully continuing the rise, at least high enough that we surpass others who are less powerful and less influential, and thus easy to use as we see fit to advance a little more, bringing them along, too, until they’ve served their purpose. And the cycle continues.
I need help! After the age of about 20, it’s probably the number one question heard by every adult, and it’s a big problem! In a literal world, it has a thousand answers: I breathe, I love, I fight, I give up, I try, I just make from one day to the next, I am dying. But the one who asks this question is trying to learn about us. It’s the easiest question to try to identify someone’s interests and their daily activities – but it’s a crappy question. What they really mean is, “What do you do for money?” And every time an answer is given, we put a label on ourselves – usually a false label – that somehow tells another person something about us. Over the years, I’ve heard people answer this question with qualifiers; people begin their answer with a word or a phrase that is intended to make an excuse for how people will see us. “Well, right now…” or “Actually, …” I think this lead-off question is maybe a little deeper than intended. I believe it is perhaps our way, maybe even subconsciously, of deciding if we need to spend more time with the stranger – if what they “do” in life can be of use to us in ours. Can we change that? Probably not. Sad.
I guess I’ve been lucky in that regards. I’ve worked in some sort of federal law enforcement capacity all my life – so my answer, although totally useless, usually prompts some sort of favorable reply. And it shows people’s shallowness. I’ve never really contributed to the world, I’ve just done my best to get in the way of those who try to negatively impact it. My life is a constant reaction to other’s lives and actions. Rarely an original thought or earth-shattering personal accomplishment.
For now on, I’m going to try to change the question in my own encounters to, “What do you do for yourself?” Try it. And if it’s hard to remember, at least consider this. If a doctor, lawyer, cop and landscaper are at a party, would the landscaper feel comfortable sharing his resume? Now consider any of the other three tearing up their front yard and then leaving it crappy for three days because they have no clue what they’re doing. The surgeon needs the landscaper just like the landscaper needs the dentist and they both need the guy who shows up at the Sanitation Department every day before the sun comes up to pick up our trash. #SameTeam ; TeamMountain
Today I clicked on one of those silly Facebook teasers, this one was to see the celebrity you most resemble. I got a little chuckle out of the Ryan Gosling transformation but then was frustrated by what TeamMountain hopes to fight against, the thing most people realize is true, but you rarely see in print. The app told me this: “You’re already the most handsome, coolest, and greatest guy around… if you were a huge celebrity, you’d be everyone’s favorite.” We all know the random machine told me I was cool and handsome so my ego would beg my brain to post it back on Facebook and again and again, and the clever app maker would get whatever payments or advertising money those things generate. But what got me is that whomever wrote the text that is sent to the person like me with nothing better to do than see if I do in fact look like some over-paid “celebrity,” wrote a sad but true fact in our existence. “If you are famous, people like you.” Why the hell is that? I mean some people are so good, so awesome, so selfless that people are drawn to them and their story gets well known, thus, they are famous – I get that. And sometimes, people go through something so epic that others feel for them, want to lift them up, and they become famous- like that guy who was trapped between two rocks and cut off his own arm with a pocket knife…or April the giraffe. But why in the world do we lift up people who are famous for being famous? If a taxi door opened on Broadway and a police officer, school teacher, mother of triplets, and any one of the Atlanta Housewives got out, who would we run to and support? Who would get our attention and praise? In 80 years, all 4 of those taxi passengers will be dead – the great equalizer. Same team, people!
Climb on! The new logo is official and we’re pumped! The mountain is an obstacle. It represents the bills, the need for a table full of groceries, that tough high school teacher you have to face in 7th period, a recent diagnosis, a loss of life, and the list goes on. We make it through life climbing one obstacle after another – some great and some small – but they pass the time until we are old and have seemingly less mountains to climb; but they are the very big ones.
The faint 2 and 4 in our logo represents Philippians 2:4, that strips away all the rules and guidelines many churches have plastered on our spiritual journey, and reminds us of a great foundation of life, no matter what your specific religious beliefs are – to look out for one another. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.” NKJV
And the tag line, “Climb on!” originates from a new love (Bob & Cade) of rock climbing. I have loved that my son trusts me and that he takes my safety so seriously, when we take turns belaying each other. If you’ve ever rock climbed, you know that the climb begins with a series of acknowledgement questions and answers between the climber and his/her belay. The start of the climb being, “Climbing,” meaning, “Hey, pay attention, I’m about to start,” to which the person on belay replies, “Climb on!” This is perfect for the Team Mountain family because the reply is how we should all attempt to interact with one another…”Go ahead, brother, climb your mountain! I can’t climb it for you, but I’ll be right hear when you get over it. And during your climb, I’ll support you, give advise if you want it, and catch you if you fall.”
Climb on, my friends!
My son and I spent the weekend on a 30 mile hike at beautiful Oak Mountain State Park, trying to raise awareness (and funds) for the Kilimanjaro trip in June which is just an awareness campaign in itself, for kidney donation. With the microphone in his face for a live shot on the morning “Good Day Alabama” show, my son told the reporter that famous people, people who have money and power, could easily obtain more money at the drop of a hat, while “people like us” had a very tough time getting others to part with their money even for a good cause. His thoughts, I’m sure, came from my ramblings over the weekend, which I expressed partly in the “Fighting the Kardashians” post. But he expressed himself so surprisingly well, and then went on to state that it would be easier to get a kidney from someone that it would be to get their donation, even for a good cause – and I believe it. So we’re now committed to do just that! We want a kidney. If you’ve ever remotely considered being a living organ donor, please give me a chance to speak with you, giving you exactly the process from beginning to end, and walk you through the gift of life. I may very well be the most rewarding thing you ever get to do while alive. Submit a request for info via our Contact Page.
Thirty days ago, Greg and I launched our GoTeamKidney.org fundraising page and decided to raise $19,340 for the Kidney Foundation, a modest amount of money as far as some fundraisers go, but a number that represented the 19,340′ elevation of Kilimanjaro. Over the past two weeks, we’ve hosted two events, one that involved me climbing 19,000 steps on a stair master (counting towards our 24 hour climb of 38,680 steps), and am currently in the middle of a 3 day, 30 mile hike. These painful and exhausting events have raised a total of $700. While hiking today with Cade, I pictured any number of lame “celebrities” that I put in quotes because many are famous for being famous. Take any of the Atlanta or Beverly Hills Housewives, or pick a Kardashian. I imagined them having an emergency situation, like, maybe their Yorki-Poo got squished on Madison Avenue. I wondered to myself how long it would take to raise $20,000 by one of those “famous” people…20 million for that matter. With one Twitter post, the money would roll in. Why do we do that? It seems like people are so willing to give attention and even money if necessary, in the hopes of maybe being pulled up to the next socioeconomic level. People in the middle or lower classes seem to have lost their voice. And on the rare occasion when one of us “normal” people lucks into something big, how often do we forget about those we left behind? People are just too damn busy with crap that won’t matter in 50 years. How much better could live be if we gave as much of ourselves to our homeless vets, neighbors who receive a devastating disease diagnosis, or just childhood friends trying to make it to a steady place in life? We might as well be trying to raise $19 million dollars! My son said to me today, “I think it would be easier to get someone to give a kidney than to give up their money,” and that’s just what we’re gonna do next. Forget the cash. We want a kidney!
I hate blogs! I’m actually confused by them. Is it a personal diary that we write and then allow others to take a peak at? Is it a platform for social change or injustice? And who in the world would read a message about life from a guy who is such a small part of the world and uses the word “at” at the end of his sentences from time to time? As I sit here today, transferring the work and progress we’ve made in the TeamMountain movement to digital form, I type away, all the while wondering if any human will ever see this. I will return here, possibly in vain, to document our journey that so far has consisted of shopping and training. Our plane leaves for Tanzania in about 100 days. I cannot possibly imagine what lies ahead, but I will return frequently to share in hopes that someone out there who is struggling with their own “mountains” will possibly see that we want to climb with you; for you. We know the average person doesn’t have a voice and feels lost at times. Our pledge is to take on a challenge in honor of those of you who conquer the greatest of challenges that death, disease, misfortune and the daily challenges of life bring. Let’s climb.