I never understood the reason that, in May 2005, comedian Dave Chappell left his show and walked away from a $50 million dollar contract. He was at the height of his success. The TV network just offered him FIFTY-MILLION dollars to film seasons 3 and 4. He walked away. There was plenty of speculation from the media and entertainment industry: He was having a mental break down. He couldn’t handle the pressure. He was addicted to drugs. The theories and rumors abound.
I enjoyed his (then) unique comedy; I was a fan. His combination of racial stereotyping and social conscience was nuanced in a way that brought levity and understanding to a very difficult topic during an ever increasingly tense time in our country. At the height of his game, he quit.
Referring to his white fans he said, “I didn’t know if they were laughing with me, or if they were laughing at me.” That was his reason. I couldn’t understand what the hell he was talking about, that is, until last night. Now I’m awake at 0400 writing about it and I have the monumental task of explaining to countless people whom I know well and love, why I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with the famed CrossFit workout called, “Murph”.
SAPI (Small Arms Protective Inserts) plates, plate carriers, dog tags, name tapes and patches. Tools of a trade steeped in culture, lore, brotherhood, tradition, pain, sweat, blood, and countless lost souls. Warriors earned the right to wear those items because we put the time in. We made a choice. Boot camp wasn’t the price we paid. That was nothing more than a modest token of a much larger cost that would be demanded later on. The price was paid over years. Its cost always rising, its ever increasing weight taking its tole on those who were left behind above ground. We earned the right to wear those items because despite the price and no matter the cost, we donned the gear when called upon and moved to the sound of the guns with the names of our brothers ringing in our ears. We did this. We earned the right to bear the weight of the tools of our trade and we understand what each pound means.
Rogue will sell you what ever you want. For the right amount of money they will dress you up like a genuine high-speed, low-drag, snake-eating, fire-breathing special operator. You can snap picture of your gear. You can post all over social media about your Murph time. You can talk about how important it was for you to do Murph and how much faster you were. You can post your instagram photos about your 20# plate carrier. Ask yourself where you were prior to your discovery of CrossFit when it came to Memorial Day? Where is your heart now on Memorial Day? If CrossFit and doing Murph has made you more aware of the sacrifices made by your fellow Americans that is a good thing. If this Memorial Day you spend more time counting facebook and instagram likes than thinking about the cost of freedom, then I have more work to do.
I begrudge no man for their choices in life. Some choose to join the military. Frankly, that is an attractive option for very few people. That doesn’t make those that didn’t want to join any better or worse than those that did join. It simply means that we have an experience that we can never truly share. I don’t know of any veteran or active service member that doesn’t feel immense gratitude for the love and kindness they are shown by their communities. The waters become murky and difficult to navigate when those that didn’t serve start to play dress up. Well-intended or otherwise, until you have pulled a flak jacket off a buddy and pressed your fingers into the hole in their heart left by a piece of fragmentation, or hung a set of dog tags on an inverted rifle, you do not understand what it means to bear the weight of the tools of the trade.
Im about to be surrounded by my people and we are going to do Murph together. We are going to honor those that gave their lives so that we may live ours. Today is a good day. It is a great day. It is a day we remember the very best that walked among us. The best way to honor their sacrifice is to live well, to love hard, and have a great life.
Thank you all for your love and kindness.