Reflections with Jesse Richman in The Kite Mag
What’s the point?!
With Jesse Richman
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the phrase “in these unprecedented times” recently. Despite humans asking what the point of life is since the dawn of time, it seems like the collective is finally being forced to truly think about it. There is no way to ignore the situation at hand and not question it all these days. Faced with a global pandemic, the most perilous environmental crisis the planet has ever seen, and the reality of so many countries being in social, political and economic turmoil, life as we know it is being tested in every way imaginable. And so, we now ask more than ever before, “what is the point of anything?!”
When I was 10 years old, I figured out the point of life, or at least the point of my life: why I was here and what I would do... I was going to become the kiting World Champion! How cool would that be, how awesome would I be? If only I was the champ! And then, six years later, I did it – I won the World Tour and became ‘the man’, or so I thought. Winning itself felt good, but what I was really looking forward to, was my new life as the World Champion.
Strangely, the next day I woke up, and I was deeply confused. What felt different? Well, nothing: I felt exactly the same. I imagined that I would wake up in a mansion, entangled with naked supermodels, and that I would walk downstairs to a breakfast feast with all my friends, where we would truly feel like kings. But, to my surprise, who did I find lying in bed that morning? It was me, just me, the same exact me as before; except my purpose had been fulfilled, and now what was left for me to do?
It was then that I realized it was always going to be just me, no matter what feats I accomplished, what events I won, what heights I soared to, and when I landed, it would always be me standing there. Once we realize that we are always left with ourselves, we should probably make sure that the person we are spending the most time with is pretty cool and bearable, the best version of ourselves. I decided to always strive to be someone who maintained humility and gratitude, someone who took every opportunity to share his passion and stoke with the world around him. For without these attributes, I was just some asshole with a trophy, and that’s a pretty pointless thing to be.
The true beauty of a sport is to share it, which extends to a greater beauty in life – it is meant to be shared. In the world of sports, we get to be a part of a great equalizer, where money and privilege mean nothing; the currency shifts to stoke and the desire to share the love of something with fellow enthusiasts.
I was fortunate enough to be born into a society and family that allowed me to explore the world of water sports from a young age. Many people cannot begin to imagine having access to this luxury, and I am humbled at my luck to have had it. But this is just how my personal story links me to the bigger picture to which we all belong. We understand that it takes a lot of specific circumstances to become a kiter – that you need to live near the water and have the means to purchase the gear.
In reality, we then enter the general wondrous world of sports, which is one of the greatest equalizers when it comes to success. No matter how much money you have, it cannot buy skill, passion, and drive. In fact, all of the greatest and most awe-inspiring stories of rising to the top come from those who were driven to succeed by sheer will – people who had nothing else and so much to push up against. The victors in these stories are always the most humble and iconic, they are true heroes: the Davids to the Goliaths, from the Carlos Marios to the Cristiano Ronaldos – people who, despite having little, were able to rise to the top, share the stoke, and unite people from around the world through their passion. Their approach to life is the perfect example of “what the point is” because they are always so full of humility, gratitude and love.
And so it is quite simple, because anyone can have this positive effect on the world about them. Anyone can harness their passion for something and share it with the world and use it as a source by which to connect to the greater whole with positivity and inclusion. This is the point! You take whatever you were given as a skill or a passion (you don’t even have to be good at it, just live for it!) and share it with the four corners of the globe. From the microcosm of your small community to the macrocosm of the world at large, share love and compassion through the channel of whatever drives you, the reason you get up in the morning.
We are all bonded by an inherent and unspoken obligation to leave the world a better place, this world that at times can seem so hopeless, corrupt and full of horrors. That is why now, more than ever, we must do our part and, in the face of so much environmental, social, political and humanitarian injustice you should wake up every day, grab your passion by its collar, and fling yourself with it into the world with total commitment!
Use your passion to share love, compassion and stoke – and that will help to make the world a better place. Perhaps this is an idealistic and naive approach, but it is my theory and I think it is as a good a plan as any other!
If we never underestimate the power of a smile, maybe we can be the change that this world needs. And, if I am wrong and humanity is beyond saving, then at least we can blow the world up loving each other and making the most of every session!