Why Not Be Awesome?

This morning an interesting question was put to me at the gym: “You think that jacket makes you awesome?” The jacket in question; my 2015 Boston Marathon jacket. I considered a bunch of different answers, but in the interest of immediacy, I just went with, “Yeah,” as I headed for the door.

Now, maybe the person asking has several reasons to be awesome himself, but just chose not to wear it this morning. Maybe his car is emblazoned with bumper stickers declaring his membership in country clubs, his awesome grandkids, his service to his country, or his political persuasion, etc. Or maybe his Facebook profile is thick with “Likes” of all sorts of favorite movies, albums, stores, cars, and whatnot. In all likelihood, we can bet he’s got something, somewhere that he shows off on a regular basis.Tom in a whitewater kayak

And why not?

There’s something wrong with a culture that suppresses declarations of awesomeness. If I choose to be awesome, and you choose to be awesome in a different way, why the heck would we begrudge each other the chance to show it off?

Is it our American-ness that causes this? Or is it a global human trait? In this country at least, we’ve been on a depressing lowest-common-denominator cultural spiral for a long time. I mean, let’s face it; our culture has become like a Ford Taurus. Nothing special, does the job, doesn’t cost too much, doesn’t attract attention, or rock the boat.

(I mean, seriously, who thinks America produces a true luxury car?)

We don’t celebrate anything unless we can profit from it. We don’t create anything without a profit motive. We watch television shows about people jumping off rooftops (again, with a profit motive), or cunning political machinations, celebrities getting ‘fired’, entrepreneurs sniveling before loudmouthed capitalists, and even a long-running cable series about guys who write television ads. We don’t sneeze unless we can show a positive P&L.

Here in Boston, you see that with the negative reaction to the proposal for the 2024 Olympics. Remember when we used to celebrate the fact that athletes from every country competed on the field in a metaphorical pursuit of global peace? Remember when we launched fireworks and light shows just because? Now if it doesn’t sell enough Coke, iPhones and Adidas gear, the pencil pusher in all of us runs a spreadsheet to see if the margins are worth it.

We’ve become a nation of boring, no-fun, uninteresting, joyless people with no time to celebrate and no tolerance for those who do. We’re only focused on the financial payoff. “Money makes the world go ‘round.” “Greed… is good.” “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” It’s like the 1980s never ended. There’s plenty of wealth, but we’re impoverished in every other aspect of life.

Balance sheets and negativity should be left at the workplace. Wherever your awesomeness comes from, I say wear it, declare it, & share it. I guarantee it won’t be from something where you ran a financial projection before you started.

The Bishop Family Weekly Update: December 14, 2012

The Bishop Family Weekly UpdateWeekly? We’re calling it weekly? But it’s once a year, right? Well, yes, strictly speaking, we only publish our weekly update once a year, but it’s coming out during a week, so what’s the problem? Got ya there.

The Bishop Family Weekly UpdateSo what went down this year? Let’s start with Connor. This sharp little guy is in his second year of school and is kicking serious butt. The words are really starting to flow, too, as people who don’t know him are starting to understand his speech. That’s huge.

He’s also a mountaineer. He climbed the entire Flume Slide Trail in NH and has also hung bear bags, built mound fires and can dig and use a cathole. Okay, Daddy helped.

Oh, he runs. And swims. Unassisted. When the training wheels come off in the spring we’ll have a triathlete.

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The Last Mountain

The Last Mountain - Hiking The New Hampshire 4K's With The Kids | MyLeftOne“Did you come up the auto road or the cog railway?” the woman asked my son Connor on the summit of Mount Washington. He didn’t have many words at age three, so he simply pointed down the mountain and said “There.” She followed his view down toward Tuckerman Ravine, which I had just climbed on foot from Pinkham Notch, with Connor on my back.

It’s a question I’d heard before, when my daughter Riley was three. That time we were at the Lakes of the Clouds hut for the evening. Again, the answer was neither; We’d hiked the southern Presidentials with her on foot for part of the way.

Yes, I’ve been climbing 4,000’ mountains with a pre-schooler in a backpack.

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Running The Gauntlet: Three Races In Three Weeks

This is a big week for me.

Rye on Mount Lafayette | Finishing the NH4KActually, it’s a big three weeks. First, I completed New Hampshire’s list of 4,000 foot mountains on Saturday. Mts Lincoln and Lafayette were number 47 and 48, all done while carrying a small child most of the way, and there will be a trip report on that later.

This hike was a day after I ran 9 miles in preparation for the Applefest Half Marathon in Hollis, NH, taking on the famous hills on Wheeler Road. But the biggest challenge was the next day, Sunday morning. I was scheduled to go out and run 20 miles.

Can I do that the day after a 9 mile hike that gained 3,200′ while carrying 60 lbs much of the way? Is that physically allowed?

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Baxter State Park: A Crossing Through Pogy Notch

View of Mount Katahdin from Sandy Stream PondI call it “The Look”.

All parents have seen it. Sometimes it’s disapproval, sometimes condescension, sometimes it’s support, and sometimes it’s surprise. Our kids do something where other people are present, and we see The Look. Someone’s eyebrow raises, a lip curls, a nose flares. Behind it is a thought, usually something like, “Are you going to let him do that?”.

In my case, someone’s jaw drops open, and the thought is more like, “You must be kidding.” I love that.

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Connor Never Gets A Trip Report

I’ve Been Mean.

Connor on Mt. LibertyOn my hiking trips to the White Mountains, Riley and Connor get equal treatment on who comes with me. On some trips it’s Rye, on others it’s the ConMan. Rye has been with me on some of the most glorious trips, like the three-day overnight to Zealand and the Bonds, the Kinsmans, and the South and Middle Carter trip. She’s also been on some of the more strenuous adventures, like last year’s Southern Presi traverse and the Dry River Wilderness.

But Connor’s been on some epic trips too, like Owl’s Head, the Wildcats, and the Willey Range. He’s done a lot of the grittier stuff, like a rainy trip to Mt. Hale, enduring the fog on Mt. Eisenhower, and an overnight on Waumbek where the temps got into the 30’s. He’s climbed the North Tripyramid Slide and the Flume Slide, as well as the steeps of Wildcat Ridge and East Osceola, where he waited while I found a way into the car without keys.

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