Never backwards always up…

Starting writing is always the hardest for me because it always starts with my scripted excuses of why I haven’t been doing it enough, thanking everyone for the constant ongoing support which I am still thriving off of and apologies for not getting back to as many of you as I wish I could… so now that that’s out of the way…

Life has been pretty damn good to me lately! I am truly blessed in every aspect of my life right now with Katrina, family, friends, work and our new puppy Quill… it’s all good! Every once in awhile when I take that much needed step back and soak it all in I don’t know how I came to be this blessed. January 11th was the two-year anniversary of breaking my neck and I thought I would be able to reflect at that point, May 7th was my two-year anniversary from leaving Craig Hospital and once again I thought I might be able to reflect on the past two years. I thought that writing everything down that happened to me in the past two years might have some sort of therapeutic advantage to my well-being but I found in my reflection process that internally I still have a lot of grieving going on for what I’ve gone through and put everyone I love through. It’s a really hard thing to explain and I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand, but in my shoes you can often feel like a burden on those around you and it’s a hard pill to swallow. Every time I say that to someone they say “Oh no you’re crazy you aren’t a burden to anyone”, and I know somewhere inside that they’re telling the truth but at the end of the day the feeling doesn’t go away. Going from being a strong independent young man, gallivanting all over the globe, not giving a shit about what lay around the corner or what I was leaving in my dust, to a somewhat helpless young man searching for what my real purpose in life is and trying to make sense of what I’ve learned thus far has been my life’s greatest challenge. I’m lucky I’ve got enough amazing people in my life to keep my head on straight and a great job that keeps me engaged and aspiring to accomplish more with my life because without that and without the freedom to run across town to meet up with a friend, go for a bike ride or run to let off some steam, do something spontaneous or even get in and out of bed on my own accord, I fear I would be groveling in my own self-pity. Thus far I’ve been able to chase away my sporadic onsets of depression brought on from the realization that spontaneity is hard to come by with the true gifts that I have surrounding me every day. I guess the moral of this rant is the thing I miss the most about my former body was the ability to be spontaneous and participate in the activities that I grew up loving. Now at the mention of going to see a concert, going out of town for business or friends getting together to skate, go to the mountain, play soccer or whatever… all that comes into my mind is the logistics involved if I even want to go and not necessarily participate. One of my friends asked me the other night what I’m doing to keep myself sane, what kind of activities do I have that help me relieve stress and get outside of the grind and have some fun…? Currently I’m short on answers.

I’m not sharing any of this because I want anyone’s pity or even advice for that matter. I’m just writing and this is what’s bubbling up. It’s hard not to be honest about yourself when you’re writing and I’ve always said that this is a form of self exploration so maybe the reason I decided to write here today is to stimulate some sort of ideas for myself that I can activate on so that I can actually feel like I’m having fun again. Don’t by any means take that as my life isn’t fun, I have plenty of laughs, I’m getting my sense of humor back as I feel more comfortable with new people and my reinvented life and being with Katrina and Quill are the happiest times of my life. I guess going from being an adrenaline junkie to sitting in a wheelchair it’s inevitable you have to slow down but when you’re slamming on the brakes the seat belt can get a bit uncomfortable. I know I’m going to find something that makes me fulfilled personally again and that time is eagerly anticipated. I’m glad I’m writing here today because it’s really inspiring me to get out there and find it… whatever it ends up being.

So enough about the void as it’s also important that I share with you the glass half full perspective. The mental growth and maturity that I’ve gained from the last two years is pretty insane when I really think about it. Imagine yourself sitting in a bathtub full of cement and that’s where you have to spend the majority of everyday… somehow I’m figuring out how to have patience with all the paralysis, spasticity, pain and helplessness that I feel when I am in my cement with no escape route in site. I have to be proud of myself for that because it even just saying it… reflecting on it… I’ve surprised myself with what I’ve been able to overcome and accomplish in my mind. I told Katrina the day she was driving me to the airport, also the last time she would see me walk, that I had always felt since I was a young kid that I was going to have to overcome something incredibly challenging in my life or that something big was going to happen to me… the day I came out of sedation in ICU I looked at her and mouthed “this is it”. I guess that feeling is what’s given me the strength to accept what’s happened to me and try and move forward with patience as though it had little effect. I’m glad that I can look back with no regrets and that I never wish to go back and change anything because despite everything that I miss… the mental growth is something that I would never give back.

I’ve had a really hard time with people telling me what I’m going through is “inspiring”. I think the reason for this is that even though they are doubting their own ability to go through this type of situation somehow I take it as an insult that it wouldn’t be the expectation of me to not skip a beat. Feels like people may not really know me as well as I’d like. I look at other people’s lives and all the shit that everyone goes through at one point or another and you can find a story of “inspiration” in the person closest to you right now and everyone you pass on the street. Everyone has their own mountains to climb in their life and I’m glad I got to climb some of mine literally before figuratively. Right now I’m at the base camp of Everest and maybe someday I’ll feel comfortable being called an inspiration when I’m standing on top. For now I’m just trying the best I can to be the same Riley I was before my injury, before moving to a place where no one really knows me, before I lost the most important part of what has molded me into who I am… traveling the world with great friends, making films, being fortunate enough to see places most people will never see and do things most people will never do. I will miss all those things but the most important things that I have left are my friends from every stage of life and for you all I’m going to keep climbing.

I really truly appreciate all the ongoing support and I pull from it every day as strength to move forward, never backward and always up.


49 Responses to “Never backwards always up…”

  1. Your honesty is inspiring, even if that word makes you cringe. When more people are honest about what they/we are going through, we will sooner come to the realization we are all one. We will recognize the universal essence that flows through us all.

    Thank you, Ri, for your honesty, your integrity; your willingness to dig deep then share and, thus, inspire us to do the same.

    Love you,

  2. Ian Fohrman says:

    Your last paragraph reminded me of a good quote I came across lately.

    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. – Plato.

    Always helps to think of when I get frustrated with someone or find myself judging in one way or another.

    We need to catch up soon. I think you tagged me last (which I really appreciate knowing that it’s a struggle to get back to everyone).

    Continuing to do my best to send good vibes your way!

  3. shaun says:

    Hi mate. I don’t kneo you and you have never heard me me. But I came across your blog and have been reading it all night. Just want to say you sound like an amazing man. I am gutter to have read about what had happened to you and I sincerely hope that you are coping as best you can with all that comes with such a thing. Much respect, Shaun for England.

  4. Hi Riley,We have never met, but reading all of your writings I feel very close to you,You see my Father had MS for 36 years and in a chair for 25 years, My Mother being the strong person that she was, was there for him, And they would say everyone has there cross to bear. We had a very normal life. You see your Katrina is a Granddaughter of these two strong People. We call her Kati and she was the apple of her Grand mothers eye. You kids are always in our prays.Love and keep the Faith Aunt Barb and Uncle Tom

  5. Bernadette says:

    Riley- I do not remember why I was looking for your mom tonite, I look for every now and then but I am not very great on the Internet ! I tried Travis poor and up popped the multiple sites about you your film career etc then your accident. My heart dropped to read what happened to you. I know it’s late but I’ll send +energy your way. May I add you grew up to be a very handsome man. I miss your mom often she was my mentor and guide thru my tough water !! I know she must be a rock for you! Please send her my love and give her me email if you have time. I am in Texas just outside of Austin. I’d love to see any of you guys anytime if you are near. My guys are all grown up too 25,26,27, Cooper and Travis were in the same grade in CB. Hang tight, your now on my list of those I send special vibes to, I hope they help in some small wayBernadette used to be Bentley

  6. Riley,
    Hey man. I met you almost two years ago when you showed your ski movie at Craig. I was an inpatient. Anyhow, I have a solution to a couple of your current problems. It’s not inexpensive but it’s the best thing I’ve found for my adreline junkie self. It’s called a Polaris Rzr. It’s a UTV aka golf cart on steroids! Fuckin awesome and fast! I rigged mine with secure seating and hand controls. I can now get as far away from people as I did before and quickly. I get my adrenaline fix and get to see and experience so many places that most people never see. (much less chair bound).
    Anoher sport ive been getting into is quad rugby. I’m not sure if you live in the Denver area, but we’d love to have you come out and play with us if you’re around.
    Just a couple things to consider. Check out my blog if you get a chance. I feel your pain bro- I’m a C5-6 and it’s no doubt a life changer but I’ve figured out a few things that have made it pretty exciting still.
    Be well,

  7. Jason Murray says:

    Amazing post, Riley. I know you don’t really know me. We only spoke on email a few times when I was helping Ellie out at Nike but, like all 6.0 athletes and managers, you radiate energy. I admit, I have not been on your blog in while but it is truly great to see you are doing well and moving forward.

    I think of my own mental blocks and challenges and, you’re right, everyone has their mountains to climb, but it’s easy to lose perspective when you’re someone like me who has his health and can go and do physical things, but puts it off for another day. Reading about your life, in the short time you have been on this Earth, it seems that you have truly lived. It’s more than I can say so yes, you are an inspiration. Not only because of what you have been doing the last two years, but because of everything. It’s one of the things I miss about working with Nike 6.0 and Action Sports at Nike.

    Keep keeping on and hopefully someday we can meet in person. All the best to you and your family.

  8. Riley,
    I was standing in line in CB and Sam Lumb told me what happened to you. I immediately went on the internet to find out.
    Sorry, about everything, but love your spirit. Really love it. Love your family.
    William got married 2 weeks ago. I will get you their website for fun. His friend Travis from Oregon designed it. The Blodgett family, all of us, are thinking of you

  9. Chelsee Largo says:

    I sure love the way you write, Riley.

    ~Big polar bear hugs from AK~

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