Here’s a story. When I was in 2nd year, Gord assigned each of us a 1st year skier that we would mentor. I was assigned to mentor Mike. Me mentor Mike. I knew where the locker rooms were, but that was the extent of the wisdom I could share. Regardless, we hit it off pretty much right away.
We absolutely smashed each other in our early morning sessions. Each day it was basically a challenge of who could come up with the most ridiculous strength session. Believe it or not, the program really worked. We hit our max ever push up count (30 + 29 + 28 + . . . 3, + 2 +1) and within a few months, we each had a pretty decent deadlift. Come race season we were both super strong and had some solid results.
All of the above was awesome, but beyond the 5:30am smash fests with the most badass trainer in the world, (remember Dwight?) what I learned from Mike was about much more than simply crushing pushups and double poling some giant hill. In Mike's case, it’s actually pretty easy for me to remember a one liner that has stuck with me.
It was our last long run together before we would head separate ways across the country, and just as we began the trail section Mike asked me a question: “Stevo, do you want to know the secret to life?”
When someone like Mike asks a question like that you stop dead in your tracks. It’s no joke. Mike knows how to laugh and joke around. He knows how to make a long run short by telling stories, but when he drops a question like that you know there’s some magnitude to what’s coming.
We had the next few hours to discuss the implications of such a concept, The Secret to Life. “That’s a pretty big secret,” I thought. “Is there a secret? Am I about to become privy to the answer?”
If there is anyone in the world from whom I trust the answer, it’s Mike. You might think, “Wow, that’s pretty bold. Claiming to know the secret to life? Who is this guy?”
This guy is Mike and he taught me the secret to life is Presence. The explanation required a 3 year prelude of time spent together, the rest of our run, and endless follow up talks, but I was sold. Mike is a guy who knows how to simplify, and he shared this lesson in one simple word.
During my post run contemplation I recognized that in this case, just as in so many others, knowing and being are two parallel sides of the coin, and over the next decade the adventure has continued, living presence. There have been moments where it’s made sense, and I think I’m beginning to understand what Mike was talking about.
Thank you Mike for so many great sessions, and all your wisdom.