Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Would You Deny a Dying Man His Final Wish?!

I recently blogged that "I am dying."  The Shewolf chalked this declaration  up to mere hyperbole, which she claims she has come to expect from me.  In truth, we are all dying, but recently, I have experienced an acute awareness of my mortality.  I think it started with a recent review of Darrell's Big List, which is essentially my Bucket List.  I have been struggling to find the time to accomplish much of what's on Darrell's Big List and my life is flying by with such alacrity, that it's difficult to envision completion of everything on my list before I die.  In short, as a 57 years old I am simply running out of time to accomplish my goals, both serious and frivolous.

So I decided it's time for a course correction.  I placed on my calendar for 2015 some spectacular events, including climbing in South America and a Brazilian Jujitsu tournament in Europe.  Either I'm in, or I'm out. I choose to be in.  When I went home and reviewed my plans for 2015 with my wife, she was skeptical about my plans and gently suggested that I reconsider these newly scheduled adventures and tamp down my ambitions. "Are you crazy?!  You are going to kill yourself, and trust me when I say, I have no interest in being left as a premature widow." My response, of course was as equally tempered, "Would you deny a dying man a few final wishes?!"

Monday, September 1, 2014

Just Say "Yes!"

 Mountain biking at Deer Valley, summer of 2014

Climbing Lone Peak with Shea, Brent and my nephews, summer of 2014.

In 1980, as part of the war on drugs, Nancy Reagan coined the phrase, "Just say No!"  She went around the country and encouraged young kids to "Just say No!" when confronted with opportunities to use drugs.  This phrase has stuck in the American consciousness.  I hate it. Let me explain...

I am dying and life is passing me by.  Well, actually, we are all dying.  Life is short and I have the sense that life is going by with such speed that I can't keep pace.  There have been times in my past where I have said "no" when offered a chance to do something fun.  Sometimes I have had good reasons for saying "no."  On other occasions I have said "no" in ways that were tantamount to "a lame excuse."  One case in particular that comes to mind is when my brothers all ran the treacherous Colorado river and I declined their invitation to join them.  I was concerned about finances and decided to sit that one out.  What a moron!  I stayed home and ended up missing out on one of the most memorable brother trips ever. Was the money I saved worth missing out on this trip?  When we die, what will we show for our efforts?  Is sitting one out for financial reasons really a good choice when one considers the brevity of life and the fleeting nature of mortality?

Most recently, I passed on an opportunity to climb the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney with my nephews, primarily because I didn't feel that my physical shape was what it needed to be to successfully hang with them.  Being overweight by 20 lbs caused me to doubt my ability to successfully complete this climb.  And so, in the end I said, "no."

Never again! My faith teaches me that we fought for the right to be here. We fought in a great war just for the opportunity to participate in the gift of mortality.  If we truly care about this life and the stewardship and opportunities that this life presents, we should make every day, every hour and even every minute count for something.   In short, I don't ever want to say "no" again.  Particularly, if it has anything to do with weight, fitness or money.  So when someone asks me:

           "Are you sure about that, it sounds a little sketchy?"
           My response, "Yes!".

          "Man that's crazy!  Are you really in?"

          "It's going to be epic, but really painful. Are you coming?"

Forget Nancy Reagan!  Going forward, I intend to put myself in a position to always be able to say "yes."  And when given the chance, I hope to always find the courage to say "yes."  I have lost 10 lbs and am working hard to get into the kind of shape that will allow me to enthusiastically respond with "Yes!" at every opportunity.  So, if you have something epic in the offing, please count me in and know that henceforth my answer to every big challenge will be a resounding, "Yes!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

There's Way too much Estrogen in my Life!

We all have secrets--some of which can cause deep embarrassment.  One of my mildly embarrassing secrets is that I enjoy unwinding in the evening in front of the television with my wife. It's not so much that I hate to admit watching the boob-tube--I mean, doesn't every man enjoy unwinding in the evening snuggling with their best girl, curled up on the couch under a soft fleece blanket enjoying the warm fire and drinking some hot spicy and fruity herbal tea while watching something relaxing?  Whoa! Now that sounded so feminine that the loyal readership that is Darrell's Yakimania might start to wonder if I have acquired a cat! 

It's not so much that I watch television while snuggling with my wife under a fleece blanket that's cause for concern; rather, it's what we have been watching.  It all started with Downton Abbey.  We were planning a second trip to London to visit Chelsea when I became aware of this series. I know its viewership is largely female, but what the heck, we were considering a side trip to actually tour Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey), so what harm is there in watching a few episodes?   Thus, it all began rather innocently. Step by step, inch by inch I found myself sucked into the very feminine media world that is dominated by Lifetime, Oxygen and PBS.  Last Sunday, we had quite enjoyed another episode of Call the Midwife, and I realized, I need help--there's way too much estrogen in my life at the moment!  I used to watch very manly and inane programs like Lizard Lick Towing, anything on ESPN and The Vikings.

So I told the She-Wolf, I have to start regulating what I watch.  With each Call the Midwife episode, I can almost feel my bi-ceps shrinking.  In truth, I am losing the essence of my manliness by what I am watching on television.  So, we (and by this I mean me) resolved that for every hour of high-feminine-programming that we watch, I will watch at least an hour of something uber manly--you know something like reruns of Combat, anything with Arnold Schwarzenegger or the Ultimate Fighter.   So, if you happen to be cruising through the recorded queue of programs on my remote, and see that someone has recorded Dance Moms, puuleeeeease for the sake of my pride assume this is something the She-wolf is watching.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Worst Month of My Life

I normally love the month of February.  It starts with Valentine's Day, which for a romantic like me,  is a really big deal.  To be sure, Valentine's Day is the beginning of my birthday celebration.  The celebration begins with some romantic time with the She-wolf and culminates with my family lavishly adoring me 10 days later on my actual birthday.  What's not to like about this month?

Well, this year everything was ruined by my mother's foray to Thailand to visit my nephew, Rocky.  She is remarkable for her age (she will turn 84 this year).  While in Thailand pictures of her began to surface on the internet with the caption "Remarkable 84 year old woman rides an elephant, and tames a tiger."  Or was it "Tames an elephant and rides a tiger?"  Or does it really even matter?  My friends, began asking, "Dude, I saw your mom taming a tiger?  She's amazing!"  or "Smart I saw your mom in Thailand,  I think she was riding a shark?  It's sad you don't have what it takes to keep up with your mother."

Yes, I normally look forward to my birthday.  During my birthday celebration, one of my kids typically asks to me to regale the family with a story from one of my excellent adventures.  Instead, this year I'm probably going to hear: "Dad, what do you think Grandma Smart is doing today?  Maybe we should call her and see what amazing things she's been up to recently."  The anxiety in me has been building to such an extent that I'm not even sure I want to publicly celebrate my birthday this year. When I can't even compete with an 83 year old woman, especially when this woman is my mother, life is definitely on a downward slide.  I think I'll just postpone my birthday celebration to a time when my mother is back in Salt Lake and busily engaged in more appropriate geriatric activities such as temple work, genealogy and meetings with the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Man crush

People who know me well (and by this I mean the 6 followers of Darrell's Yakimania), know that I can be a wee bit obsessive when it comes to things that interest me.  I have a hard time regulating my time or energy when it comes to things that I am into.  When I'm interested in something it's essentially pedal-to-the-medal-balls-out-take-no-prisoners total commitment until I get bored with it and then I usually walk away from the matter for a few months or even a few years, until I get interested again and then it's a where-have-you-been-all-my-life-how-did-I-live-without-you? total obsession again.  Things that would fall into this category would be cross-country skiing, snowboarding, caving, rock climbing, Japanese, Spanish, genealogy, family history, etc., ad infinitum, ad naseum.  I'm sure there's a mental health disorder somewhere in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorder, IV that could explain this phenomenon, but there' no way I'm ever voluntarily subjecting myself to a psychiatric examination to find out! It's simply way too frightening to think what might be revealed about my inner psychological workings in such an exercise.  Nope, I am not the least bit curious!

Now there are several interests that I never seem to tire of; namely: wrestling, fishing and all things Wolverine related.  Fishing and wrestling are understandable life time obsessions for me.  Wrestling defines who I am--it's more than just something I do--I AM a wrestler.  That has been a fact for decades. Fishing? While I cannot adequately explain this obsession, I'm pretty sure it's something biological.  During my last annual physical examination I asked Dr. Brett DeGooyer, my very patient and skilled family provider, to look carefully for gill-pods behind my ears to see if he could detect any physical signs to explain this phenomenon, or otherwise offer-up any medical opinions on the subject. I am disappointed to report that he found nothing.  And so while I'm not entirely sure what's up with this constant obsession, I comfortable with the explanation that it's something innate, such as an immutable characteristic unique to simply being me.  In private, I have confided to the She-wolf that it might be something sexual, but this is way too Freudian, and my thoughtful musings on this subject will have to be more fully explored in some future post. 

But my obsession with the Wolverine?!  I really don't get it.  One would think an obsession over this type of super-hero would be exclusively the domain of goofy, adolescent boys--after all, I am a very mature, respectable and normal middle-age man. I used to think it was because the Wolverine was so dang cool and rugged.  He's conflicted to the core and deeply mysterious.  He's hiding deep secrets and pains that no person could possibly understand.  And when he morphs, you know it's excruciatingly painful, which just compounds the problems for the bad guys he's going to dispatch because morphing puts him in a really, really bad mood, and some body's gotta pay for that.  Most important, you can't kill the dude.  Bullet to the head?  No problemo.  Knife to the heart?  Nope, he's going to keep coming for you. Yep, everything I want to be physically is represented by the Wolverine, even thought I know that I don't look anything like this most amazing superhero.

Last summer, the She-wolf made an interesting observation that, in a creepy way, might explain this obsession.  We were on our way to see the movie Les Miserables, when I commented, "I understand, the Wolverine is not only a really good actor, but that he sings amazingly well."  She gently corrected me, "Darling, the Wolverine is not in this movie.  Les Miserables stars Hugh Jackman."  "Well, regardless, I'm really excited to see this movie and see the Wolverine in a totally different context.", I insisted.  The She-Wolf then demanded, "What is your obsession with Hugh Jackman?"  I responded defensively, "Who said anything about Hugh Jackman?" Then the big light that invariably and embarrassingly illuminates most things for me in life shone directly, painfully and mercilessly into my guilty face, as my wife offered this insightful conclusion, "Darling, I think it's rather obvious you have a thing for Hugh Jackman."  I vehemently protested, "Say what?! That's ridiculous!  There's no way, I would ever have a thing for a dude! That's sick!" The She-wolf continued, "It doesn't matter what movie he's in, you demand to see it three times.  You refer to him as the Wolverine, but it's him you want to see.  Take Australia for example.  That was an okay movie, but you seemed to think it was on par with Gone with the Wind."  "That's just crazy!" I protested, "I just think the Wolverine is uber-cool and a got a little confused because after all, the Wolverine, is kind of like Hugh Jackman's alter ego."  With great satisfaction, she just mumbled, "Whatever you say, Big-guy."

I was really disturbed by this conversation and was in total denial until last Sunday during the Superbowl, they showed the Wolverine in a luxury suite...er, I mean Hugh Jackman, and I got all excited, "Sheila look, even the Wolverine, is at the game!"  The She-wolf just grinned and gave me that look that can only be described as her oft repeated, "Whatever you say, Big-guy."  She then sat back with great satisfaction to enjoy the game.  

In the end, I know she's right.  It's true I obsess over the Wolverine and maybe for reasons that I can't (or don't want to) explain.  As for Hugh Jackman?  Well, like the Wolverine, he's pretty cool too.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Top Ten List for 2013

As I set goals for 2014, I have reflected on the wonderful events and magical moments of 2013.  Our trip to Europe and dropping Lil D off at the MTC have to rank right up there.  But there were so many other significant events that it's hard to narrow it down.  Regardless, here's my best attempt at the Top Ten Things in my life in 2013

1. Going as an entire family with Lil D to take out her endowments at the Columbia River Temple; 
2. The birth of Ana Shea;
3. Chelsea's graduation from the University of London;
4. Darcee's fundraising race--Hero-Up for Children's Cancer;
5. Seeing Shea make the honor roll at UVU; 
6. Prague;
7. Discovering the magic of bees;
8. My entry into the world of sailing;
9. Earning my blue belt in Jujitsu; 
10. Weaseling my way into the Girls' Trip for 2013.

The Columbia River Temple with all our children.
Although 2013 held some big challenges, we feel so unworthy of all the good in our life.  Sheila and often comment to each other that we deserve so little, and yet have so much.  It feels to me as though life is less like a journey and more like a series of experiences and events that build upon each other, with each event providing meaning and context to what I am experiencing next.  The joys and challenges of today are enriched, appreciated and valued because of what happened yesterday.  I feel deeply about today because of my past encounters, with each event and personal observation contributing something significant to my present experience.  I know that I am progressing towards middle life because I hurt so much after wrestling and Jujitsu practice, but it feels less like a journey and more like a collection of meaningful encounters, with each one adding ever greater value and context to the next.   So my earnest prayer is that 2014 will contribute many more phenomenal events that will make my tomorrows deeper and more meaningful that what occurred yesterday. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Award Winning Dance Moves

As I review 2013 and the many amazing experiences and major accomplishments that occurred in my life, one in particular sticks out.  The 2013 West Yellowstone Rodeo's Dance Contest.  Now, I have always known that I was a good dancer (I suspect that loyal followers of Darrell's Yakimania aren't surprised to read this.)  I knew this was true even when I was mocked by family members who hated on my dance moves.  I have been largely impervious to hypercritical observations such as, "Stop, you're embarrassing me!"  "Seriously!  Stop right now!"  "Are  you sure you're okay?!"  "You look like you're have an epileptic fit!" I simply chalk up such comments to oh-I am-so-jealous.

I love big beat music and sense that I feel the music and can express myself in ways that other people perhaps cannot.  I loved to dance in high school.  I graduated in 1975 right at the beginning of the disco era.  Although the clothing from this era was, in retrospect, hideous, the dancing was a lot of fun. I struggled with the set dances from this era such as the Electric Bump and the  Hustle; however, whenever I was just moving and grooving, and doing my own thang, it was pretty much magic on the dance floor.

Now, if you were to ask what kind of dancing I'm good at, I would likely have to pause and thoughtfully consider that question.  There are dancers who specialize in country western/line dancing, ballroom steps, Tejana, etc.   I think my style would best be described as Eclectic Freestyle.  I have no idea what that even means, but I'm certain it accurately describes my unique and interesting style of dance.  Above is the video graphic proof of the serious damage I can do on the dance floor.  Please note, however, that the video doesn't do justice to my sublime dance talent for several reasons: a) I was trying to dance on a dusty dirt surface, b) I was wearing flip-flops and c) the song was so short that I didn't have time to bust out my big moves. The reality is that West Yellowstone is not likely ready for my big moves just yet, so maybe it's best there were some limitations imposed on me.

Regardless, I won a prize for my efforts, which technically makes me an Award Winning Dancer.  Following my victorious dance, I continued to relive the moment of glory with my family for several days:

"I just can't believe that I won! Can you believe it?!" 


"I've never won a dance contest before, but I'm not really surprised.  Were you surprised?!"


"Show me the video again, because there were a couple a places where I think I could've improved on how I was moving.  If I practice a little bit, do you think Dancing with the Stars might be in my future?"


"Was my performance pretty-much flawless, or did you see some minor areas that I could have done differently?  Maybe in execution of some of the more technical aspects of my dance?  What do you think?"


Their tepid response? Jealously, no doubt!

In the end, 2013 proved to be another magical year for DKS.  And for all you haters out there that doubt me, just remember I AM the Award Winning Dancer from the 2013 West Yellowstone Rodeo who is holding the big prize:  a $5.00 gift certificate for seriously valuable merchandise at the Mountain View Mercantile!