Disclosure: These opinions are my own, and I want to be as sensitive as possible to the family at this time, as the investigation is still on going. Maybe we can use this as an important lesson to ourselves, our kids, our families. I encourage you to comment below, as I feel the discussion is warranted. But heed my warning that derogatory comments, which add no value, will be removed.
Few times in life do we have the opportunity to witness true greatness. Whether the platform be music, sport, literature, etc. does not matter. So few are the trailblazers who push the boundaries of their respected craft, that oftentimes they become labeled as an icon. Even achieving legendary status. A person who transcends their given talent, is remembered long after they have hung up their spurs, or in this case, their bike. Dave Mirra was one of those trailblazers. He touched many lives, and helped innovate & progress a sport he loved both locally, and on a global stage for many years.
Though I cannot say I knew him personally, I did have the opportunity to meet the aforementioned icon. While at East Carolina University in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I worked at a nearby golf course. Being in a college town, you get to meet all kinds of folks. From coaches & players, to local businessmen and those in between. I often closed the pro shop in the evenings, and during the summer, still had an hour or so of daylight to hit some balls or play a few holes. Every now and then, as I was vacuuming the pro shop, or re-folding the apparel, a small entourage of guys wearing collared shirts, straight billed hats conveying their favorite action sports brands, and golf spikes would want to get in a few holes before dark. Right away, I knew who it was. If the action sports brands he and his entourage donned didn’t give him away, his warm smile, and pleasant persona did. As big of a celebrity as I had ever met at the time, not once did I feel starstruck or intimidated. Dave Mirra’s laid back personality would not allow for that. As someone who probably relished being low key, the times I saw him were typically late enough in the day so to miss the crowds, and getting in a full nine holes was impossible. It was just enough time to get outside with friends, play a few holes, and unwind. And every time, as he was walking out of the pro shop, he would look back and say, “if you are getting ready to close up, come out and meet us.”
The first time or two, I figured he was just being nice, and that my presence would impose on their game. But when the offer still stood the next few times, I felt obligated to join in. And that is just what I did. I usually met them about the 3rd or 4th hole, and typically had enough daylight to play 2-3 more. I have to admit that it was no different than playing with my own lifelong friends. High fives, laughing, and teasing each other after a dead shank were commonplace. I felt accepted into a group I really had no business being in, if even for a short amount of time. At that time, there were cellphones, but not with cameras. No social media. And even if those things existed, had I given in to the selfie, it would have ruined the chi that surrounded us for that short period of time.
But I’m not writing to talk about that. I am not writing to talk about Dave’s many accomplishments. Here is a good article for that. Nor am I here to condemn or condone what he did. I have no earthly way of knowing what he was thinking, or feeling. I am writing to express what happened to me, internally, when I heard about yesterdays tragedy.
“The ones who push the limits sometimes discover that the limits sometimes push back.” ~ Frosty Hesson
That is one of the last lines in the movie Chasing Mavericks. This scene went through my mind shortly after hearing about the unfortunate situation in Greenville. I went back to those memories I mentioned earlier, and I began to wonder why. Why would anyone, much less a person who held the world in the palm of his hand, do this? Someone who laughed in the face of danger, heights, or the occasional double back flip. Someone who seemed to have it all together. Someone who’s personality was so humble, that he felt compelled to include an insignificant like me in his golf outings. All of these questions, emotions, running through me like Dave himself hitting the vert to pick up speed for his next big trick. And it made me mad….
I tried to put myself in his place. Without speculating, but wondering how bad things actually could be, that the thought of carrying on with life for another second just does not seem worth it anymore. Mad knowing that he leaves behind a wife, and two children, to grieve, and eternally wonder why. How that cloak of guilt must feel is inconceivable to me. It seems so utterly selfish. That any help from friends, or professionals, that he may have had or could have had, did not turn his mind away from the dark path that led to his ultimate demise. It made me mad to know that this was one obstacle he could not push through. Even after making a living at overcoming obstacles which he did like Picasso painted pictures. His career was almost cut short by a drunk driver, through which he persevered and returned to BMX. A true master of his craft, he made it look so damn easy. Looking at it from all sides, my conclusion is this…Suicide is never the answer. Ever. My heart breaks for his family, and I hope they find peace & solace within their memories.
I used to be a licensed funeral director, so I have seen more suicides than I care to remember. I have seen how it affects those left behind. Like zombies off The Walking Dead, just going through the motions. Trying to find answers, cussing the Almighty. Answers, they may never get. I empathized with each and every one of them, but any message of condolence or sympathy I expressed seemed to fall on deaf ears. I could actually see the joy stripped from their beings, and all that remained was but a shell of confusion. A theme has emerged…Suicide is never the answer. Ever.
After reflecting, I felt compelled to write a post to let everyone know that there is another way. Sometimes, we get swept up in negative feelings about ourselves, our lives. It wouldn’t feel normal if I didn’t have some negative self talk throughout every week. Hell, as a younger man the thought of suicide had crossed my mind a time or two. The difference was I reached out for help instead of trying to fight it off internally, or worse, not confronting it at all. I encourage anyone who may be having the same thoughts to do the same. NOW! You may feel like the world is crashing down on you, that nobody loves or cares for you, but you would be wrong. There will always be someone, lots of someones, who love you. Why would you leave them behind wondering “what if”, and thus placing the undeserved burden of your selfish act upon them? Again, I cannot imagine what was going through his mind, but for every way I tried to dissect it personally, suicide was never the answer.
“Someone once asked a man how he was. He replied, “I’m going through hell!” Said his friend: “Well, keep on going. That is no place to stop!” If you seem to be going through the deep waters of physical anguish and cannot for the moment seem to gain the understanding which binds the strong man, keep on going—keep on clinging to Truth, and hear again the comforting, strengthening message, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” God, divine Love, is eternally sustaining His child, and will “bind the power of pain” as surely as the summer sun will melt the stubborn frost.”
~ John Randall Dunn (excerpt from Christian Science Sentinel)
I am a single father of the most perfect six year old boy on the planet. The thought of not being around for his future accomplishments makes me swell up with tears even now. Just the thought of leaving behind a loving family, numerous great friends, and a crazy dog, fills me with great sorrow. For these reasons alone I tell you, the sun will rise tomorrow. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is so bad that it cannot be dealt with on this side of eternity. As the quote above mentions, don’t stop going through hell, because eventually you will find yourself on the other side, in the sunshine again. You will come off that ledge, my friend. Friends have an uncanny way of making us feel better about ourselves, our situations. What they can’t do, can be filled by numerous professionals who will be glad to sit down and make sense of your self destructive feelings. Bring you back to a sense of peace within. I know, I was there on that cliff many years ago as an immature mid 20 something. Seeking help was the one of the best things I have ever done, and I attribute my continued growth and self-awareness to the resources I surrounded myself with all those years ago. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, and it will take time, but the hard work eventually pays off. What better investment is there than investing in yourself, your well being? None, that I am aware of.
So please, if you are feeling like life is too great a burden, I urge you to reach out to someone, anyone for help. It may just save your life, not to mention saving your loved ones from a life of guilt & unanswered questions.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you are encouraged to seek help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK.