Freedom Skate Day 4: Stretching Sanity

Sept. 9th, 2010



Honest to You

Let’s do something here: Let’s make a promise between you and me. Let’s make a promise that this place will present an honest depiction of both my journey and my own personal mental workings. That’s a big promise, because it can be tempting to present things how I feel they should be, rather than how they are. This story is best told from a place of transparency. That’s where I speak from now.

How to Lose Control and Love It…

Today was a bit rough for my mental game. It was a day of further preparation (we’re still setting all kinds of stuff up on the east coast and in NYC). It reminded me of a few similar days of extreme psychological distress during my study abroad semester in Germany during the spring and summer of 2009. I didn’t know exactly what the problem was then, but I do now; my mind was being stretched. My concept of “steady” and “normal” was being completely obliterated and remade. Though I was in western Europe, the overall culture and lifestyle was completely different than what I was used to. Most of all, it was my transient and traveling lifestyle. It wasn’t the big differences that got me; it was the little ones. The small inconsistencies between my expectations and the real-life possibilities ate away at my sense of control. I remember days when I felt the need to simply “organize my life.” I would do small tasks like cleaning my dorm room or over-organizing email to somehow reclaim “control.” I wasn’t the only one struggling with the change. As a matter of fact, most of my fellow exchange students wanted to reclaim normal and get home as soon as possible by the time we were still a month out from the end of the semester.

I remember something else though: I remember my solution to the problem. Why was I able to reach the end of my semester in Europe and be the only one who still wanted to stay (for another 6 mos. if I could have)? It was simple really: I stopped trying to control everything in my surroundings; rather, I stopped pretending that I could. For just a period of time, instead of living life, I let life “live me.” It’s not to say that I was passive. No, I was more decisive and perhaps more charismatic than ever before. I just learned to laugh with the punches. I learned to grow down a little bit and let life be an interesting and unpredictable experience. I let life be an adventure. I’ve never lived more fully than I did during that three month span. Never.

Time to Move

So here I am standing (and skating 😉 ) at the start of what will be the most transient, moving, and unpredictable year of my life. When I look forward, I see nothing but new and unfamiliar roads that I’ve never traveled before. I expect new faces and new names every day. I see myself as a moving entity with too much energy to stay put for long. And that’s just it: To achieve my goals for this skate, I must learn to become a movement and a cause, a wave, but not a man. I see opportunities to do things 10-100 times as influential and powerful as I’ve done before. Yet today my mind is hesitant; it wants to hold on to “normal.” I look back to my experience in Europe now; it’s time to stop living life and let life live me. It’s time to let go of what was or is and make room for what is now forming in front of me. It’s time to move. Of course it’s not just time for me to move. As I’ve told you: This is your journey as well. The good, the bad, the hard, the easy – these are as much yours as they are mine. So I challenge you to stop holding on to what you think life is supposed to be. Make room for what life can become for you. If you do that, you skate with me.

– Austin

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