Thursday, August 09, 2007

Finding Friends Online, Finding Inspiration

There has been some difficult stuff going on lately; some of it is really unpleasant. I'll get through it--I know that--but maintaining a positive attitude has been hard lately. Again, I will get past this rough time, and I am usually pretty good at staying optimistic and looking for the positive aspects of a situation. Wednesday, however, I found myself feeling a bit low and engaging in some "woe is me" kind of thinking.

That's a toxic state to enter because the negative attitude tends to attract more negative experiences and things begin to snowball to the point where life starts to look ugly in all its aspects. Recognizing that I was starting to go in that direction and wanting to turn around and go the opposite way, I decided to reconnect with some online friends with whom I had lost touch for a while.

A few years ago, I used to frequent a site called Fit To Be Men. It's a really good site, focusing mainly on fitness and living life to the fullest, being the best we can be. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but work and various other things got busy and my participation dropped off. In any event, it was a natural place to return to reconnect with some friends and look for some inspiration.

I sought and I found. One of the friends that I haven't talked to in a while is a fellow named Rob, or "FishrCutB8," as he is known in various places on the Internet. Rob has a blog called, yes, Fish or Cut Bait. (I didn't even know Rob had a blog, that's how out of touch I've been.) I've been reading the blog and I know I have a lot of catching up to do, with him and with other friends, but I am writing about him now because he's a great guy and an inspiration to me.

Rob is a survivor of testicular cancer. His battle with cancer and his recovery inspire me. However, to be candid, Rob has been an inspiration to me before his cancer experience. Rob is one of those online friends I have been privileged to meet face to face. Even though we knew each other just from online contact at Fit To Be Men and a few other forums, Rob was always keenly interested in me, my progress with fitness, my struggle with depression (later diagnosed as bipolar disorder type II), and some other challenges I have faced in life (I'll blog about those sometime). He has always been very supportive.

Rob and I met in person in Little Rock, Arkansas at a men's fitness retreat hosted by our mutual friend, Jean-Paul "JP" Francoeur, in the spring of 2004. There's nothing quite like Little Rock in the early spring, and there's nothing quite like JP's fitness weekend (now called the annual "fitness summit"), filled with first-rate instruction about weight training and nutrition, JP's warm Arkansan hospitality, and some great food at the Flying Fish on President Clinton Avenue followed by a few cold beers at the Flying Saucer, also on President Clinton Avenue. Rob and I hit it off right away and I felt like I had known him since I was a boy. What a great time! I sure hope to go back to Little Rock and attend one of JP's events; they really rock.

Recalling these memories makes me happy. Hell, it does more than that: it inspires me to face, even embrace, the challenges that lie ahead. Rob and JP are both inspirational guys and good friends. Knowing I have their friendship helps give me courage to step forward and make the most of everything life has to offer, the fun stuff and the more challenging. Thanks, Rob and JP!

1 comment:

FishrCutB8 said...

Ahhhhh, the Flying Fish! The irony of a Men's Health Summit dining on the smoking deck. Good times, good times....

Glad to see yu are well.