Maybe this is my mid-life crisis, maybe it’s my life’s calling, I don’t really know yet, but however it goes I have faith that it will be the right path for me. No, I’m not about to go all religious on you, saying God has a path for me, etc., because I’m not really very religious. I’m saying that maybe, just maybe, things all happen for a reason, and even though we may not understand that reason at the time, it needed to happen in just that order, in just that time frame, for everything to work out just as it should work out. A wee bit philosophical this morning, but that’s about it for my philosophy for now.
Anyways, the question of am I REALLY living is one that has kind of plagued me for the past several years. Most people would look at me from the outside, and think that I’m a generally happy guy, and I have my toys, and my own home and a job that’s fun on most days, but am I REALLY living? When I raced ATV’s, I had races to look forward to, series to plan for, and a goal at the end of it all. I couldn’t wait to hear the announcer call “tennnn secondssss!” as my line was about to start, the adrenaline surge I would get at that time would be like no other, and I had complete focus for the next two hours of racing. The thrill of a victory was really like no other feeling in the world because you really had to fight for it, and it was all you, your machine, and some luck. In short, when I raced, I felt ALIVE, and when I won a race, I REALLY felt ALIVE!
Problem is, XC ATV racing is very rough on the body on a good day, and on a bad day could leave you permanently disabled. Darting between trees, over logs and rocks, through water crossings, all the while trying to avoid other racers and even pass them puts you in a danger zone, and takes its toll on your body parts. Knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, ankles and wrists all take their abuse, and after racing 5 years and breaking my wrist and hyper extending my knee, it was time to call it quits on the racing. After all, I am competing against guys that are 20 years my junior, my body just can’t keep up anymore.
Without racing, I needed to find another source of adrenaline. Something a little more sustainable at my age, which makes that a tough find because well, adrenaline carries inherent stressors usually, and I wanted less stress to my body. So I started fabricating a buggy. Built the Piranha buggy completely from scratch. Had to cut, bend and weld every piece of the frame myself, none of it came from a kit, it was all plans based. Taught myself a LOT about fabricating and how to build a vehicle making this little monster, but sadly I need wider trails locally to use it more, so it sits unused.
I then decided to build a rock crawling jeep, because rock crawling is “The most adrenaline you will ever get at 2mph” as some say. The jeep was a smarter build, as it is also street legal, and I can drive it anywhere. The ’89 Wrangler I chose to build came with a tired 4.2 litre carbureted inline 6, and a worn Peugeot BA 10-5 five speed transmission, a sagging 5″ lift and not much else.
After 3 years with the “Stomper”, I have fabricated rock sliders, a rear bumper and swing out tire carrier, power steering skid plate and sport roll cage system. I have also done a custom engine swap, putting a ’96 Jeep 4.0 with an AW4 automatic transmission and new custom drive-shafts into it, while maintaining use of all the stock gauges. I have a Super 35 kit for the rear axle, an ARB locker for the back and a Lunchbox locker for the front, plus a set of 4:88 gears that still need to be installed. Needless to say, she’s a little beast now. But…. admittedly I don’t take it rock crawling enough..
So in January of 2015, I wrote a post, and little did I know how much would happen during the upcoming year. I had no clue at the time what I would end up doing, but I knew I was tired of the same old, same old. Luckily for me, I have a friend who has pushed me for the past 8 years to become a scuba instructor, and he was still pushing. So in September 2015 I went to Cozumel, Mexico and completed my Advanced Open Water Diver certification after not having dived for nearly 20 years. I did my original Open Water certification as a college course in my senior year, and then didn’t dive again until Cozumel sadly, and I say sadly because I missed out on 20 years of diving. Well, that certainly lit a fire under my ass. I re-discovered diving, and fell in love with it all over again. Thoughts of becoming an instructor started creeping in again, and considering I had taught swimming lessons as a Red Cross WSI for nearly 20 years, I started recalling the feeling you would get when you finished a class. Considering half of my students were kids whose parents forced them to be there, and in a scuba class all the students want to be there, I felt like that feeling would be even better after certifying new divers. Fortunately for me, I also have the opportunity to get in at the ground level on a new dive operation as well, once I have paid my dues of course, and I am very comfortable with the ideas I have discussed with them.
Within two weeks of returning from my trip to Cozumel, I was planning and booking my trip to Utila for January 2016. As luck would have it, I still had some money saved from my spring overtime, Cozumel ended up being cheaper than expected, and my boss said he would be closing up the shop for 6 weeks in the middle of winter, so I wasted no time making plans to head to Utila and to do my Rescue Diver course during the month of January
Almost as if it were the hand of fate, I was on the island of Utila on January 24th, 2016, exactly 1 year from the post I mentioned. And I actually teared up as I read the post from the year before, probably because I had finally started to LIVE again. The words I wrote just a year earlier were nearly prophetic now, and I finally started feeling like the path ahead of me was becoming clearer. Now I just have a million hurdles in the way to get there, and many major decisions to make, but they should be pretty easy to make with a clearer mind and goals. Some people might call this a mid-life crisis, I prefer to look at it as a mid-life course correction. In other words… A Change of Life!
After all, happiness starts inside, and I am finally really starting to look inside. To be truthful, its almost terrifying, but at the same time exhilarating. Its like my favorite Calvin & Hobbes comic, the last one in the series actually. It’s time to go exploring!