On the two most powerful lessons my dad ever taught me

A few days ago, my roommate, Ryan, and I ran 30 miles from Pantoll Station on Mt. Tam to the Pt. Reyes Hostel. We spent roughly 6.5 hours pushing ourselves to complete a task we, only a few weeks ago, decided to do.

Ryan approached me and said, “You just wanna pick a date and a few trails and see how far we can go?” I thought about it for a second or two and said, “Sure. Let’s do it!”

We ended up picking May 20th as our run date. With a few weeks to “train” we both did what we had to do to get ready for the run.

About a week after we started training, my dad fell ill and was admitted to the hospital. I felt sideswiped from everything else in my life, including this run.

I immediately left to head to Virginia to be with my family.

On the forth day of me being in VA, my dad had to undergo a high-risk surgery to save his life and the chances of him making it through were slim. During all of this, emotions, thoughts, and memories ran through me like a freight train all full speed.

Here I was, spending nine days with my family at my dad’s bedside in an ICU room at the same time as I’m finishing up my class at CCA, starting a new endeavor, and training for this run.

My dad taught me things that every dad teaches his son; how to throw a baseball, how to stand up to bullies, how to drive a stick shift.

I owe my work to my dad. I wouldn’t be here now doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for him instilling in me a strong work ethic. The two most powerful lessons he taught me that have always stood out were;

1. Keep your word
2. Finish what you start

The people in my life know I hold these two lessons very close to my heart. Not keeping my word or ending something before finishing is a rare act for me. Whether it’s completing a life goal of riding my bike across the country before I turned 30 to driving a 20ft-shipping-container-turned-design-studio through 10 states to only have the engine blow up in Missouri. Keep my word, finish what I start.

Fast forward to now

I had to make a second trip to VA just last week when he suffered a setback that found him back into the ICU. This was the week of May 20th, the week of the run.

Once things settled down with his health and we received reassurance from doctors that he would be able to recover and get out of ICU, I booked my ticket back to SF.

Ryan and I set forth on that Friday morning as his girlfriend dropped us off at the trailhead. We started the run and never looked back. During planning, we talked about exit strategies just in case, but once we got on the trail, quitting was never discussed.

Just over 6 hours, we arrived at our finish line. We made it.

Finish line beer / Not sure what Ryan was doing with this leg

During the 30 miles, I had my dad in my thoughts. Thinking about his current state, thinking about what he had taught me, thinking about my family, thinking about my new endeavor, thinking about how stupid both Ryan and I were for doing this run without really training.

But that’s the thing. I kept my word to Ryan and set out to finish what I started.

At the time of writing this post, my dad is still in the hospital recovering in step-down. I have yet to ask him what the last couple of weeks have been like for him due to him not being able to talk.

I can’t help but think that my dad made a promise to himself about fighting his sickness. About keeping his word and not giving up. About starting his path to recovery and finishing it with him at home with his family to see and experience many more years to come.

My dad is and will always be the strongest man I know. He’s a tough guy from Minnesota that never takes no for an answer, who always questioned authority, who never liked being told what to do. The last couple weeks have presented him his toughest battle in his life. He’s not going out without a fight.

What’s happening to him now has been inspiration for me to keep my word… whether it was to finish the 30 mile run or to start my new endeavor and see it through. What’s happening to my dad right now has only reiterated how much he has taught me and how I am the man I am today because of him.

What have you started recently? What setbacks have you encountered that have only inspired you to push through no matter what?

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