My life began on a dirt bike, which is an excellent indicator of how I would grow up : fast, full of tumbles, a bit chaotic, usually covered in mud, and ready for adventure. One of my first memories involves gripping the handlebars of my dad’s KX-500 as we climbed the trails at Lone Pine. At 3 I was on my own bike, and began racing at 6. I learned some things about life during these years. I learned how to push my own limits, and how to compete. Pushing my own limits meant always questioning and being curious about what I can accomplish in life. Sometimes that has left me for better, and other times just inches from certain death. However, facing the end has a certain way of forging who you are.
Competing at a young age instilled a fortitude that’s hard to otherwise develop. A healthy dose of losing forced me to face fears of mine. In motocross that meant attempting what seemed impossible, or pushing outside of my ability—both of which translate into life skill. It also gave me confidence, I think that too many people have been so sheltered from both losing or winning that they have encased themselves in shells of fear.
Around the age of 4 I began skiing, and snowboarding at 6. I was pretty good on my board and have always wanted to heliboard. Boarding and MX composed most of my life. As crazy as it seems, I actually sustained more real injuries boarding than in MX, haha. Man, I used to love sitting on the top of a mountain with a dark and gloomy sky glaring down, a heavy snowfall blocking out the rest of the world and nothing but the quietness of the forest – the creek of pine trees and fragile snowflakes hold a grip on my heart. There’s something just beautiful about it all.
My youth included a ton of camping, endure-riding, four wheeling and trampolines. My family would load up the ATV and ride miles and miles to secluded fishing holes during the summer where we would just spend time together. Then in the winter, my dad and I would hunt elk. I remember waking up in my tent, everything is frozen and thinking “holy crap its cold”, and I don’t get cold easily. The pond ice was so thick we’d do donuts on the quads for hours. I remember looking at squirrels and rabbits and wondering how they didn’t freeze.
During one of our dirt bike trips, I got stuck halfway up a massive hill. It was the steepest and most intimidating hill I had ever faced. After failing to climb it repeatedly, I was left further and further behind and soon could not even hear my dad or the other bikes. I remember breaking into tears from being left behind and from failure to overcome such an impossible obstacle. But after a while, my dad came hiking down the mountain, grabbed my shoulder and told me that we never quit. When the challenge is the hardest, we push even harder and find a way. We keep going and never accept failure. That principle has formed my life.
In my teens I played video games, travelled to a few countries and got into theater and film. I actually lettered twice in theater arts which I didn’t even know was possible at the time. I really enjoyed the theater and being on stage. I liked to make people laugh as well as experience dramatic emotions, that was my reward. I also did tech stuff behind the curtains and even did a bit of directing. After high school I started work for a Colorado film producer and began work with a talent agent. But acting requires waivers that prohibit dangerous activities like snowboarding and motocross, and since those were my passions, my acting career dwindled. Setting acting aside, I focused more attention as a stage-hand working for Disney, Paramount Pictures and other recognizable names while also running set for theater productions held at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Sometimes I regret not pursuing a career working with my great uncle Paul who owns some of the most renowned Broadway theaters in New York City.
Acting never really gave me what I looked for in life, it just wasn’t gritty and rough or adventurous. That part of life where you don’t know what is next or how the world operates around you is alluring. I remember being in Costa Rica just walking the streets by myself at like 2 in the morning. I was the only white guy around and didn’t speak the common language and it was thrilling. Someday I hope to travel to places like Switzerland and climb the green valleys and fjords, or South America to crawl the lost caves, or go underground swimming in Mexico.
Just after turning 19, I walked down a pretty stupid path that ended in my 50 year incarceration sentence. It can be hard to face such a long imprisonment. But I have found that prison is not the end of my life, rather it is the start of a new one and can be used to advance oneself academically and as a person. Here I have found a passion for learning, especially quantum theory, relativity theories and particularly philosophy. I love examining the principles of the universe at work through math and logic. I love to unveil the hand of God in science and theology, asking the most challenging questions of reality head-on.
For the past 9 years, I have worked full-time as a welder and iron worker/fabricator. It is not very lucrative (only 60 cents a day), but gave me an opportunity to build a large-scale model pirate ship which I donated to a high school. The ship took me approximately 3 years to construct, weighing in at about 250 pounds and the size of a very large plyo-box. As great as welding is (meh…) my true passion is CrossFit.
CrossFit stands for more than simple athletic fitness, and while the challenge of the workouts speak to my athletic nature, it is a community of world-movers. If you are not sure what I mean, read my vision, mission and motto statements. I do enjoy testing the limits of what I am capable of, after all how can one know if they never try? But my passion lies in our members. Sometimes a guy will approach me and tell me that I have changes his entire life, that I have given hope or reason or changed how he looks at everything. To me, that’s worth a lot. People are worth everything and so to make a life better has real value.
Good and evil exist. The world falls to evil when good people do nothing. I believe that has been my destiny during my incarceration; to reach out into a dark, dark world and ignite an inferno of light, setting ablaze the standards of hate and revealing purpose which hearts truly yearn for. I refuse to follow along to a world committed to wrong things. Changing the world seems impossible, but like the hill of my youth, I will never give up.
Growing up in prison certainly has its challenges and creating the winds of change can be lonely. Deep down my heart pines for adventure and companionship. I suppose it is good that our lowest points develop who we are the most.