Friday, January 23, 2015

Shane McConkey, conquering fears, and living our fullest potential

I am proud to say that Shane McConkey and I have a few things in common...we both lived in Boulder, and in Vail, we love fresh powder, we follow our dreams, no matter how unrealistic they seem, and working a 9-5 desk job is our worst nightmare.

I don't really watch TV (except The Voice and The Bachelor…of all shows, right?!) and the occasional movie when I really feel like veggin-out.  My friend Mac Attack mentioned to me that Netflix just released McConkey.  This was great news for us riding fools! The film is a playful biography of the late Shane McConkey's life.  If you aren't familar with this extreme-athelete and air-seeker, he pretty much pioneered popular free-skiing, creating the first powder skis and eventually moved towards BASE jumping and wing-suiting. If you are into extreme sports or simply like feeling inspired, this movie is definitely worth watching.  I was so touched by McConkey's love of living the life he truly desired.  He spent all his energy doing what he loved; pulling gainers off cliffs, buildings, antennas, bridges, airplanes... He was fueled by fear and excitement that adrenaline junkies crave.  Even though he couldn't make a living out of this at first, his passion eventually led him to developing a unique and fulfilling career. I am in awe of him because I constantly need to push myself and take risks, and for him it came naturally.

It was ironic that my friend Mac told me to watch this film, 'cause she is one badass chick who will push me to my limits.  The two of us went on a backpacking trip last summer through the Maroon Bells in Aspen.  We had planned for a three day, two night loop, based on our schedules.  The sun hid behind the clouds and the rain soon followed the evening of our first night.  We had just enough time to set up our tent, eat, and hang our packs far from a bear's reach before the rain came thundering down.  The next morning, we had a later start then we planned, as the rain hadn't let up all night.  It was an adventure!

The following morning I was feeling damp, thirsty, and fearful of how I would fare through the rest of our trek.  Because Mac is such a good friend, we ended up turning back.  I let my doubt stop us, when in my head I knew we could've continued the journey.  What about all the people who completed this hike before us?  Or all the people who have successfully hiked the PCT or AT?  All the pioneers and nomads who lived hundreds of  years before us, spending months at a time hiking?  They did it! Without wool hiking socks, freeze-dried food and Jetboils.  If wish I had known that challenges help us grow by testing our strength, our courage.  My fear of the unknown consumed my thoughts, preventing us from achieving that 27-mile accomplishment.  I told her she never has to hike with me again, but I hope we will finish the hike we started last summer ;).

It's hard to admit that I just recently started to figure out this whole "fear" mentality.  Every day I will strive to be a little more like Shane.  I don't know if I will ever attempt a BASE jump, but I am going to use fear as fuel and not let it hold me back.