Born and raised in South Louisiana. When I was 18 I decided I wanted to see winter and mountains. In an effort to offer myself the opportunity to do that, I took a campus tour of the University of Colorado and it was snowing so hard you couldn’t see the buildings from 100 yards away. After that visit, I was sold and I moved to Boulder eight months later. Based on some advice of a good friend in Louisiana I got more involved with an organization called Young Life while living in Colorado. Through Young Life, I met and fell in love with a group of friends that cannot be explained on paper. Over time this community of friends grew and it became more than just a group of friends to me.
After living in Colorado for two years I moved into an old farmhouse just outside Boulder proper. Eleven guys, two bathrooms and a whole lot of mice. I lived in that house for three years...some of my best memories. The core of the roommates stayed the same but guys came and went. One of the guys that lived in the farmhouse for most of my time spent living there was a dude named Tucker. I met Tucker in freshman Biology II about a year earlier. He had just transferred from a junior college where he was a baseball star. He had a nasty mustache and a mullet with toy plastic beads on the back of his head. He would routinely fall asleep in class and I would wake him up for the participation questions. If my friend from Biology I hadn't sat near him in that class I doubt I would’ve ever talked to Tucker. Needless to say, we chatted it up, became friends and ended up living together for the last three years of college. (It takes some of us longer to graduate.) Tucker fit in right away with our friend group. Maybe more than I did. Most of the guys I hung around with were adventure junkies. They were also extremely good athletes so they could pull off many of their crazy ideas. I am good at running and playing horse shoes. And I drive five mph under the speed limit in most places. But these guys never left me behind. (I think they always wanted to make sure someone could run for help.)
One time Tucker took me snow skiing and brought me to a place on the mountain I had never been before. When I looked down at the steepness of the slope, the plethora of trees and the giant lumps that I knew were rocks I realized why I had never been to that part of the mountain before. Tucker coached me up and then pointed out we couldn’t go back even if we wanted to. So, I very slowly and very poorly made my way about halfway down and let out a big sigh of relief. I turned around to watch Tuck come down and he came flying through the trees and launched off a rock and threw a 360 spin in mid air. It was incredible. But his landing was my favorite part. A double ejection (both ski's flying off of his feet) and a face full of snow. Rarely have I ever seen him hesitate to go for it though. The picture on his bedroom wall when we lived together was of him doing some ridiculous flip/spin move on ski's while being pulled behind a suburban over a snow drift.
Fast forward five years from that skiing experience to a time when we’re both in a canoe in a Louisiana swamp. I live in New Orleans now and he is down visiting for the first time. It is a gorgeous July day and we are simply paddling along and enjoying each other’s company. After about an hour on the water and seeing several alligators Tucker tells me he wants to do a backflip into the water off of the canoe. As you can guess I shut that down. Running and horse shoes remember? And like many times before, after a lot of persuading, I gave in to the idea. We got back to the dock, checked the depth, scanned for any visible gators and Tuck launched himself through the air and backflipped into the Louisiana swamp. I sat in the canoe and filmed the whole thing.
As I watched him frantically swim and climb out of the black swamp water I was reminded again of what I thought so often in college watching and reluctantly participating in things like this with my buddies. This is it. This is life. Skiing down a near vertical drop. Running uphill full speed after a herd of elk. Paddling in a canoe in the bayou. This is it. This must be what Jesus was talking about when he told the crowds about life and life to the full. Life is all around. Enjoy the Journey.