Doing what I do I have the opportunity to meet some incredible people, many of whom hold world records or are world champions. In the past two years, I even got to become friends and spend time working together with these incredible individuals, getting to know them on a personal level.
One thing that stuck out at me is the way that family members generally talk about these accomplished friends, or rather… don’t. There is of course an acknowledement of the most popular achievements, but beyond that I discovered almost an absence of intimate knowledge. Family were able to talk about other members’ recent achievements such as getting a job, buying a new car, having children, or even going on a vacation. However, members of the family never brought up my friends, it was almost as if they avoided the topic.
It got to the point where I specifically asked whether they knew anything about my friends who achieved worldwide fame. I literally asked what these family members knew about them, to which they replied that they were aware that they practiced X activity and won some awards for it…
I was in disbelief, and speechless, honestly. It is certainly no small thing to compete in a world’s best tournament or make an attempt at a world first, much less to actually accomplish the task of being the single human being out of all professionals recognized among the entire population of our species. I didn’t know what to say, it was obvious that they attended family functions just as much as everyone else and that they had an opportunity to talk about their lives.
And today it hit me, as I’m writing this and about to set off on an adventure that literally sounds like the next installment of Indiana Jones. I have dedicated everything to do this; it is the only thing on my mind, it is the most important thing in my life, and it has succeeded as a priority to every other conceivable competing thing. It is rare that I talk about anything else and I am constantly struggling to explain the complex ways that everything is tied together right now.
I am boring. This may well be the most exciting thing for me, but what I am doing is so far away from their day to day lives and concerns that I am disconnected; I speak a different language. I do my best to enumerate the most attractive features of my adventure; the canyons, the waterfall, the 10,000 year old evidence of human civilization (here I go even now!), but it’s like looking at a brochure; “neat.” It’s not something that concerns them on a level that affects their day to day.
And when it’s time to talk about what they are doing, I am not part of it. I don’t watch television or sports, I’m barely up to date on news, and I know nothing of gossip or recent affairs. I’m so engrossed in what I’m doing because it is so demanding that the flow of content between my family and me became one directional; me talking at my family about the most recent meaningful-only-to-me revelations, and them talking at me about a lifestyle that I am only getting a glimpse of.
I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, I LOVE my family. I love hearing about them and am actually fascinated about everything they are doing; to tell you the truth listening to what they are doing is like hearing it for the first time. When I actually spend time individually, I actually get an incredibly close connection.
What I am specifically saying, however, is that the conversation at family events doesn’t get very far and that’s where I get to see them all most often. In much the same way I didn’t know what to talk about to my first date at dinner after which an awkward silence ensued illuminated by blushing cheeks, conversations at family events just don’t have the type of personal attention to express so much to each other. I am sure I seem absent minded too, and it is true because my thoughts are constantly going back to my expedition.
One thing I got from typing this out is inspiration to host a presentation when I return. I would like to communicate what it is I’m doing and what it takes to do it. I love my family and I hope to share this incredible joy with them. I also accept, however, that first I must successfully complete this adventure, and that means focusing on what will get me home alive and safe.