I'm writing this post for a very special cousin of mine who is losing a bit of faith in herself. She has had many struggles in her life and has constantly had to battle self-confidence issues. Somehow, through all of this she has set a goal for herself to complete an Iron Man (I believe in 2012). If you knew her you'd know what kind of accomplishment this would be. She is absolutely capable and WILL accomplish it, if, and only if she will refuse to quit, no matter what. I hope this post will help get her going back in the right direction. I hope that maybe it will also inspire some of you.
In 2003 I set my sights on doing something that was extremely fool-hardy, for me. It was a last minute decision to join a friend and a couple of people from the local news rag to attempt to climb Utah's three tallest peaks in one day, starting from an advanced base camp. While I was in good hiking shape and was chiseled from years of rock climbing, I had no actual idea of what I was in for and no concept of how I would accomplish it. I just knew I had an opportunity to summit Utah's tallest peaks and that was good enough for me. I hadn't even considered the concept of Refuse to Quit yet, but would soon be faced with the foundations of it. After summiting King's and So King's I sat on a rock by a stream at the bottom of the Anderson chute with my shoes off, contemplating whether to continue on or call it quits. My hiking partner and the reporter and his son had already thrown in the towel, leaving only myself and the photographer to get the job done. He, the photographer, had said he was good with whatever I chose to do, obviously feeling the effects of the miles and vert we had already put in. We both knew we still had another 3000 feet of climbing and several miles to go before getting to the final peak, Gilbert. Every part of my body told me to stop. Every active thought in my head was screaming to just curl up and sleep. Yet, something in my core, at the very essence of who I was began to push up and rise through all the doubt like plant pushing through the soil to reach sunlight. At the time I didn't know what it was, but it became the beckoning force that motivated me to move on. It was accompanied by a very simple thought, "you can rest when you're done, you can quit when you're dead". I got up and pressed on. Together, we finished that last peak and made it safely back to camp.
I look back now, with all my experience as an ultra runner and realize that what I accomplished that day really wasn't all that awesome. Since then I've returned and completed that same thing thing in a much faster time and starting and returning to my car, which adds 16 miles. But on that day it was the biggest thing I had ever physically faced and it would set the tone for the rest of my adventurous life.
Not long after that event I was faced with what would be the absolute biggest challenge of my life, my divorce. That experience dwarfed the Triple Crown in difficulty, both physically and mentally. As I rebounded from that and began to start my life again I was faced with that age-old challenge of dating. After only a few random dates I was presented with a wonderful gift, the woman who would eventually be my wife. But only after she and I had gone through more trials than I thought possible would we be able to tie the knot and begin a life as husband and wife. I won't go into the details of those trials, but they tested me to my very core. They pushed the concept of Refuse to Quit to the absolute limits and on more than one occasion I was certain had broken it. I had given up. Yet, sitting silently alone, that same motivating force that had compelled me to get up from that rock next to a stream in Henry's Fork would push me to get up and fix things with my fiance'. Six years later and I'm happy to say that we have a wonderful marriage and look forward to a perfect life together.
I continue to face challenges. Every day something else jumps up. In the past year we've endured the process of buying a house and preparing financially to do that. I had no idea what a challenge that would be and on many occasions wanted to just quit and go rent something. In August we had our youngest son in the hospital for three weeks. I can't explain what kind of anguish we went through. And then to have to face the financial difficulties that would follow as a result of all the bills (a challenge we are still facing). Then, only a few short months later we were back in the hospital for the birth of our final child, William. While not a challenge in and of itself, the bills are now stacking up against Max's hospital bills, creating what is again a very trying time for us. There are moments when I just want to return to the base of King's Peak and curl up on the grass and die. But that's not who I am. Refuse to Quit has embedded itself so deeply in the foundations of my life I can't do anything but get up and continue on.
In our darkest moments we discover who we really are. It is at those times when we define ourselves by how we respond to that situation. Will you curl up and want to die or will you rise up and refuse to quit? It seems like a cliche' phrase, but when you really give it some thought and reflect on what you have gone through or are going through you may find that you too have lived by and are currently living by this same principle. At our very core I believe all of us who refuse to be held down, who refuse to live in the dark, and who choose to get up and be successful do so because we do one simple thing, Refuse to Quit.