A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down and unload a fat ass brain dump. It ended up being around 10k words or so, all geared around looking back at the year 2020 and what happened throughout it all.
After I wrote this I thought to myself, “fuck, this is way too long and way too personal to release. I’m going to need to edit this and chop it down into a bunch of smaller articles.”
But then since then, another few weeks has passed, and this is still sitting on my computer. Realistically I know that if I wait to have the time and space to edit this, it’s going to be a while before I get it out to the world.
Well then….fuck it. It goes out as written. Here is a lookback on the year 2020 and everything that happened along the way. I hope you enjoy and learn something from my journey…
Over the last few years I’ve had a tradition of doing a “lookback” at the end of every year. It’s an opportunity for me to reflect on what took place, process, and learn from what happened.
It’s now 10 days into the new year and I haven’t gone through this process yet. On paper at least. While I’ve spent a lot of time in deep reflection lately, nothing comes close to putting words down onto the page. Offloading all of the thoughts and lessons and emotions still rolling around in there from the previous year.
I’m feeling that itch. The need to release. The need to get it out of my system. Perhaps I’ve been avoiding it because 2020 was a heavy year. Lots of learnings and lessons. Or perhaps I’ve just been avoiding writing in general.
Nonetheless, today as I sit nursing an injury from the highline, I feel it’s a good opportunity to wake up, smoke a lil spliffy, drink a cup of coffee, and immerse myself into flow 🙂
So let’s begin….
January of 2020 had a beautiful start. I celebrated New Years in Rio de Janeiro watching the fireworks from the top of Dois Irmaos, then flew to Seattle and got to meet my entire team at the Flow Research Collective as well as get some good one on one time with Steven Kotler (who is my “boss” but also my hero/idol/I admire him and it’s fascinating being able to see his brain work in action).
Buttt I burned myself out on that trip. Not enough sleep with a little too much alcohol enjoying the festivities, and by the time I landed in Florida I could hardly breathe and thought I was dying of an asthma attack (in retrospect I now look back on this and think I had COVID). I eventually got myself to the hospital, got on some prednisone and a nebulizer, and within a week I was good to go.
January was my month for seeing family and friends back in the states. I spent a week in Florida to see my brother and mom, then flew to NJ to see my dad and other brother, then flew back to Florida for my moms birthday February 10th, and then was on my merry way back to Brazil.
Nothing too crazy noteworthy during that time, but because this is a brain dump and I like to process potentially unprocessed emotions through writing, while I was in Florida I got drunk on tequila with my mom and brother and we had a heavy conversation with rough words exchanged (as is somewhat normal in my family although we’ve gotten better over the years).
When my brother and I got back from that dinner we smoked a fatty together and had a breakthrough moment. It was really beautiful. An incredible connection between the two of us that arose through deconstructing the narratives we’ve been told about each other and the roles we play in each others lives, and how this has constructed belief systems, reaction patterns, and so much more. A true moment of clarity where you see through the fog and see the simplicity of it all. A moment where you work through difficulty and come out on the other side with the epiphany. Was something that will always stick with me, and if I’m reflecting on 2020, gotta throw it in here!!
From there it was back to Brazil 🙂
Things started off well as I had been talking to a girl on instagram and we had a great connection together. When I got back to Brazil we met up and it was magical. Everything worked out perfectly. She slacklines/highlines, speaks English, has traveled all over, lots of common ground. Dream come true.
Around this time I was also insanely focused on getting myself on the highline. I had a taste and felt like I was building some consistency and momentum from the previous year, and now I felt like it was my year to really grow and evolve and learn how to start walking highlines calmly.
February 23rd I was able to get on a small line of about 30m. Had a great breakthrough session where I was able to calmly walk the line without falling, and then catch at the end. First time I had ever done that, was stoked!
Then on February 29th I had another opportunity to get on the highline. This time it was a 90m long, the biggest I had been on in a while. Was hungry for more steps.
The first time I went out I just simply stood up and fell a bunch of times. Couldn’t get my shit together. But this is all a part of learning how to highline, so I left hungry to come back again for a 2nd run.
In the 2nd run I was able to stand up and take some clean steps. I was happy with this alone.
However, at some point during the run when I took a leash fall, I tried to grab the line, and in doing so, strained a muscle in my back. Didn’t really feel it when I was on the line, but when I got back to land I could feel I tweaked something pretty badly.
Around this time I hung out with that same girl again – But when we met up the 2nd time the same spark wasn’t there. Felt more mundane. Something had shifted. We could both feel it.
We decided to let it be. I was a bit disappointed but in my heart I also knew she wasn’t right for me. She has a 3 year old who is a handful and just didn’t have the headspace to focus on someone else. Also not really what I’m looking for in a partner as well if I’m honest with myself. Alas, these things happen and we learn along the way.
This then took me into March. First two weeks of the month I was nursing my injury so no more highlines, just living the good life in Brazil working and enjoying myself and then……COVID hit.
At first I didn’t really know what to make of it all. Luckily though I was well prepared. I already work from my computer so it just became business as usual. Instead of going to my favorite co-working spot, I just worked from home instead.
Business wise at first I remember we were worried and uncertain about what would happen to sales. Would this affect us negatively? Is it going to be harder to sell? How do we lean into this uncertainty to show why now is actually the perfect timing to do a training like this?
At the time I was also a lone wolf on our sales team. Only person selling and responsible for all of our revenue and incoming cash flow. It quickly became a “pressure is on time to be at your best” kind of moment. It also became a “you can’t get sick” type of moment as well. If I were to get COVID all sales would stop and as a company we would be fucked. So that also meant – Troyboy is sitting at home like a good little boy and not going to go out and get covid.
Throughout that time I crushed it. Not having anything else to do, I packed my calendar full of calls and we grew all of our numbers. I stayed at home and didn’t go outside very much. I got my exercise doing shit inside, lots of yoga and pushups and jump rope.
It was a productive time for work, but something strange started to happen to my health.
Within about a month of self quarantine I started to develop a strange skin rash. I would later confirm it as atopic dermatitis. I had this in the past, but this time it spread all over my body. My armpits, forearms, belly, legs, everything was covered. I was itchy all of the time. Would wake up in the middle of the night feeling like my body was on fire. Often couldn’t sleep.
This extreme side of things lasted for around a month or so, although the rash continued into August. My body was covered in scrapes and scabs from itching myself…and this was much of my life for the month of April. Sitting at home itching relentlessly while working my ass off to close deals and keep the company running.
It was a very lonely time for me as well. At some point it dawned on me that I have really built an isolated lifestyle for myself. I travel alone, show up in countries where I don’t know anyone, rarely have a long term girlfriend or a female I spend a lot of time with, spend all day on the phone talking to people, im disconnected from a lot of my friends back home…while I love my isolation and solitude and it’s something I’ve built my life around, during the quarantine I really grew to appreciate face to face contact. Having people around me to talk to and touch and hug. But now even in today’s world of Covid can we do that anymore?! Can I still hug you when I meet you? How does that work now?!
These were a lot of the thoughts floating around my head when I wasn’t working. I think a lot of it came from the video calls I do every day. I speak to people over the phone but I craved that face to face contact. The ability to feel someone’s energy. The ability to hug and touch and feel. It felt like a vitamin deficiency my body and soul were craving.
On top of this, I was working my ass off. Lone salesman who hadn’t taken a break in close to a year and I was feeling pretty fried and without space for myself. We needed to hire someone new so that I could take some time off and get some much needed recovery.
Around this time I singlehandedly spearheaded our hiring and training process for the new sales guy. I started screening about 5 different candidates, put them all through mock calls, and then eventually selected the person I liked best.
He then came on board, I trained him up some more, and we quickly doubled our sales numbers as a team. Not only did we now have someone new, he was performing at a high level. His first month in April he had great numbers and I was happy that I had someone to share the load with. Also a cool dude which makes it fun to work with someone who you like working with.
However with all of the sitting inside, by the time May rolled around I started to crack. I couldn’t sit at home anymore. My skin wasn’t getting any better, and the need to see people was all the stronger. I decided to start leaving the house.
The first weekend of May I finally jumped on the highline again…and then the same day went for an Ayahuasca ceremony at night. If I’m coming out of the cave, let’s do this shit with a bang!!!
If you’ve read my website before, you probably know that this wasn’t my first rodeo with Momma Ayahuasca. I believe in it’s curing powers, and while I had tried every solution under the sun for my skin problems such as fish oils and probiotics and vitamin E, nothing seemed to be making a meaningful difference. In these situations, I turn to Aya for the medicine I need.
That ceremony was pretty heavy for me. In a nutshell I was transported to the land of the infinite, and there was a highline to infinity spread across all of time and space. I was walking on that highline. When my breathing was deep and I was connected to my body, I was walking a rainbow highline to infinity, and when my mind wandered and I lost focus, I would fall off the highline into the abyss of infinity where I didn’t know what direction was up and down. For hours I alternated between states of intense calm and focus to lying on the floor trembling as I took what felt like an infinite number of leash falls.
In that same ceremony I also needed to come face to face with the fact that for the first time in my life, I was feeling depressed. All of this COVID shit and uncertainty in the world and my lack of human connection, this feeling that I was feeling, was depression. I needed to accept that this is a feeling that has accumulated over the months that I need to process. So I sat with it. I cried a bit. I longed for companionship and love. I vomited. And then that slowly shifted and mutated into gratitude and love for where I currently am, and love for all of the love and passion I have inside of myself.
Then the doors of love and harmony and happiness opened up to me. I remember at one point I just started maniacally laughing and then everyone began to laugh as well and then we all hugged each other and played music the rest of the time as I sat feeling truly happy (and itch free), for the first time in a long time.
This ceremony marked my “re-entry” into the world. After that ceremony I decided I could no longer sit in fear in my house all day. It was making me sick and depressed. I needed to get outside more, get my human contact, and trust that my immune system could handle it. I had already seen the alternative, and I knew I would get even sicker if I continued to stay inside all day. It was a trade off. An experiment. Let’s go back into the world and see how I feel.
Shortly after the ceremony it was a friend’s birthday. He invited me to meet up with everyone. This would be my first time meeting a large group of people outside of the highline and the Aya ceremony (which were both very small and intimate, around 3-5 people). It was beautiful. I let my guard down, took my mask off, and decided to enjoy myself. I had so much fun. I was hooked on people again.
One thing I want to stick in here was that around this time of late May early July I had a pretty severe back spasm in my lower lumbar that lasted for a few weeks. It was really painful and shitty.
While this was happening I met a girl who recommended a chiropractor to me. She said that he had done great work with her and that I should give him a try.
For context, this isn’t the first time I’ve had back spasms. Since probably around 21 years old or so I’ve had at least 1-2 back spasms per year that have left me out of commission for a few weeks, some years better than others. I’m now 31, and I’m fucking tired of having these issues happen. I needed to take action.
So having said that I decided to get my ass to the chiropractor. He took some images of my neck and spine and showed me what I had to do. I liked his style because he’s not one of those chiropractors that just starts cracking everything violently. He took some images of my neck and explained to me that everything starts in the neck. If the neck is out of alignment, this will then ripple down to the rest of the spine. So although I might have lower back pain, it’s actually started from a consistent misalignment in my neck.
When we took the images, turns out he was right. My neck was out of alignment by around 5 degrees or so (If I remember correctly).
Equally he put me on a scale that measures how much weight you put on each foot, and the angle of your hips. Turns out the right side of my hip is on a decline in comparison to the left, and because of that I have more weight on my right foot than left.
Returning back to starting at the neck to cure the rest, a phrase that stuck with me was “holding is healing”. Meaning that if they make an adjustment to the neck, and then that stays in place or “holds”, the rest of the spine will naturally fall into place over time as well. One adjustment to the neck is all he did, and then maintenance to make sure that it held.
He also explained to me that in between each vertebrae of the spine you have these sponges that fill with cerebral spinal fluid. For example, whenever you go for a walk, it releases this fluid and lubricates those sponges in between the discs of your spine. Staying in motion, having a healthy dose of movement, is essential for keeping these well lubricated. No lubrication? That’s when we’re usually experiencing pain.
So while I get my daily doses of exercise throughout the day, I could also be incorporating more walking. Just the simple act of walking more frequently, taking more pauses throughout the day, can help significantly. Especially because I’m on the phone all day and use a standing desk, it’s pretty easy to get tight.
Last, he gave me a bunch of exercises I need to work on and incorporate into my daily routine. These exercises will help to improve the slow process of the recovery of the spine.
In general it was an enlightening experience. I’ve had back pain for so many years and didn’t know how to fix it, and now I felt like I had a plan. Posture became a huge emphasis of mine in my daily life.
Equally what is holding me back on the highline? My posture. I’m always falling to the right side. My posture leans towards the right. All of the back pain that I have and the declining hip? My right side.
If I want to walk on the highline I need to fix my posture. Correct all the years of sitting and bad posture and tightness in the body. The element of the highline has added a ton of motivation to the posture theme. Now that it’s holding me back from walking, I have to fix it. If I don’t fix it, I won’t be walking on highlines. Simple as that. It’s an obstacle in the path that I’ve avoided for years and is now staring me in the face with an opportunity to fix.
Back to the story and why that becomes relevant, towards the end of June I was now pain free again and able to get on the highline. My buddy set up a small line at his house, a “mid-line”, and we could train there. After around 2 months of not walking and trying to work on my posture, I was curious to see what my performance would be like.
I climbed up his tree, tied myself into the leash, and brought myself out there.
I stood up on the first drop and felt very stable. I immediately started taking some steps. I kept walking. I felt in control. Like I wouldn’t fall. Just like I do on a normal Slackline. I ended up crossing all the way to the other side on my first try.
As I did a “catch” to secure the line and stop walking, someone behind me screamed “onsight!
In the world of Highlines, an “on-sight” is the first time you ever enter a see/enter a route, you walk the entire thing without a single fall. This was the first and only time I’ve ever done that, and it was a beautiful feeling.
It was especially rewarding because of this journey of working on my posture as well. Felt like the attention and energy I was putting into my posture paid off on the highline with better performance. This only reinforced the existing motivation.
On a side note around this same time (mid-end Juneish) I started to date again too. Started talking to girls on instagram and tinder. A few flings manifested but no real connection with anyone.
Then one day I met a beautiful Venezuelan girl and we sparked up a great connection immediately. We started to see each other consistently. Around this time I still had my itchiness problem, and her touch would often put me to sleep calmly without itching. I joke the she was my cure, but in reality she really was. My skin slowly started to improve as I spent more time with her, more time meeting up with friends, and getting myself back on the highline.
Things felt like they were moving in a positive direction. The only downside? I felt utterly burned out and exhausted work wise, and this was overflowing into my mood outside of work. The repetition of it all was getting to me and I needed a week off for myself. In reality I was feeling the burnout in March/April already, and then hiring the other guy alleviated some of that pressure off myself, but I was in need of a break all the same.
First week of July I was able to finally get a break for myself. Took a week off and just meditated and did a mini Vipassana with walking to the beach and biking. Was really blissful.
Came back after that break and closed more deals in a month than I ever had before. In three weeks I had more deals than I normally close in a month. The power of recovery baby!
Then one day early in August I met a different girl who is a part of the highline community. I was enamored with her at first sight. We didn’t really chat much at first, but we kept seeing each other as we would meet up and highline. The flirting was definitely there. It was all in the eye contact.
One day I was highlining at my buddies place with the midline and an accident happened. I had one run that was magic. Walked back and forth calmly, was practicing turning around, exposure, bouncing, you name it. Was on fire. After that I went back and relaxed. The same girl went on the line after me, she had a great run and had some personal breakthroughs.
Then my buddy encouraged me to get back out there again. Without thinking I jumped at it. Climbed up the tree and got myself settled.
For some reason as I was tying my leash I kept doing it improperly. I wasn’t getting it right. I’m still a beginner, so I didn’t feel totally comfortable doing it yet. I did it and un-did the knot about 3-4 times and it wasn’t clicking. Then I needed to pee. I think it was nerves.
Not feeling quite right and deciding something felt off, I said fuck it. I’m going to go down, pee, climb back up and do it again calmly.
Then as I descended the tree, something happened. I don’t really know exactly what it was, but I think my right foot missed my hold, and then I found myself spiraling outwards. Next thing I know I was falling away from the tree, quickly.
Instincts took hold and I grabbed onto the only piece of rope I could see. My only option now was to repel down 20m or so by hand. And I did. Next thing I know I’m sliding down the rope calmly to my safety. I land calmly on the ground.
As I’m overwhelmed with relief that I didn’t just die or get severely injured, I can feel my hands burning. I look down and they are SMOKED. Severely injured and on fire.
(Here’s what they looked like when I got home and tried to clean it all up…BEWARE!!!)
Eventually I calm myself down and just try to focus on getting them cleaned up.
As I’m sitting there keeping myself calm the same girl I have a crush on is being very affectionate and caring for me. I feel very connected to her.
In that moment all I could think of in my head was “tell her how you feel!!!!”
So I did!
I confessed that I had a crush on her. She replied…it’s mutual!!!
In that moment I could give a fuck less about my hands. I was so happy that I had found someone I genuinely like and feel connected to.
Also for some context, love has been a tricky subject in my life (if you can’t already tell). It always seems like when I have a crush on someone it never goes right. The feeling isn’t reciprocated and it falls through.
This felt like the first time where it was reciprocated, where someone liked me back. I was very excited and hopeful.
The next week we hung out together and it all clicked. We slept together and had a lot of fun.
But….the sex was less magical then I expected. It didn’t feel like we had the same spark or connection physically. Like we weren’t quite on the same page. That’s sometimes normal for someone new as you get to know each other, so I brushed it aside as something to explore and work on.
Now here I was with two loves in my life!
But I felt conflicted. Should I tell the other one that I have met someone else? Or is that too premature? Should I just let it play out?
I felt like Jerry Seinfeld on the episode where he accidentally lands a threesome for himself. “I’m not a threesome kinda guy! I gotta act different and dress different, grow a mustache, buy robes and lotions!”
I decided to let it all unfold. Don’t break it off with one until we really have clarity. Like we say in the world of flow, “don’t trust the dopamine” and I was weary of getting too excited too quickly.
Shortly after the accident I went to a friends house to chill after work one night. My hands were fully wrapped and bandaged, and we talked about the accident.
In that moment he taught me a lesson that I will never forget, one of the most important lessons of my life, especially for the highline and the type of sports that I tend to get myself into.
He said to me “in climbing the greatest risk is comfort. Most of the accidents you see actually come from very experienced climbers who get so comfortable that they don’t follow proper safety protocol”.
It was true. I got comfortable and I didn’t follow proper safety protocol.
In that moment when I was descending the tree, I didn’t clip myself in. This means taking a piece of chord and a carabiner and clipping yourself into the safety line.
Why didn’t I clip? Habit.
It’s a relatively easy tree to climb, so I got into the habit of climbing it up and down without clipping myself in. At this point I had probably ascended and descended the same tree over 20 times. I was comfortable doing it.
Comfort = risk.
This is what happened to me. I got comfortable climbing up and down the tree, and I didn’t do the basic things that are easy to overlook or brush aside.
In all of the accidents in the world of highlining, the number one cause is human error. Specifically now the number one cause of death on the Highline is people forgetting to tie themselves into their leash (which personally I don’t understand how you forget to tie a leash in, as it’s your only point of safety/connectivity, but sei la, this isn’t the time and place for that discussion).
All the same – These things happen when people get too comfortable.
This lesson of comfort = risk is probably the single most important lesson I could learn on the highline. When I look back on that accident I’m insanely grateful that it happened and that my hands were the only things injured because it could have been a lot worse….and instead the world gave me that red flag and lesson as a warning for the future.
After this conversation with my friend he decided to put on the film “dawn wall” (If you haven’t seen it yet…must watch!!!).
For some context, it is the story of Tommy Caldwell – an insanely talented climber who loses one of his fingers in an accident, and then continued to climb and become on of the best in the world.
Seeing this story where he lost his finger also made me insanely grateful for my hands. Everything they help me to do. From typing to highlining to everything in between. Hands are so essential. I hadn’t properly appreciated my hands. Now, I love my hands and I appreciate their ability to heal and recover and grow stronger. They are magical. Love for my hands has been a major theme of the 2nd half of 2020!
Now back to the story of 2020 around this time it was now around August. I was thinking of moving out of my apartment and finding a bigger and better space for myself. Was tired of living and working in a cramped apartment. I wanted to find a place where I could have people over, where I could have more social contact. Where I could have space for myself.
And then I discovered this gem…..
I found my dream house and secured it. I was amped. First week of September I moved in.
Quick problem – The address listed on airbnb for the house was not the actual address. Turns out the house was actually another 30 minutes away, at the top of an insanely large hill that is difficult to drive up.
Although I loved the house upon arrival, anxiety also settled in on me. I live off of uber eats and ifood, and nothing comes all the way to the top of this hill. What the fuck am I gonna do!? Equally this house is far and isolated as fuck. My goal was to have somewhere I could have all of my friends come and chill, is anyone going to even come here?!?
I enlisted the help of a buddy of mine to find me a chef. I knew that cooking for myself was out of the question, uber eats would be a nightmare, and I needed an alternative.
Luckily, within a few days my buddy found our solution. A friend of his from the climbing world who is a good chef and needed some extra money as he recently had a child.
He cooked his first meal and I was sold.
Now all of this actually happened the first week after I had moved into the new house, but on the first weekend right after I moved in before I had anyone else over, I had the girl over that I was excited about. Brand new house to ourselves and a great opportunity to connect.
Having said that, the 2nd time around, once again just like the other girl, the physical connection just wasnt there. We could talk for hours and she would leave me feeling excited and motivated and creative – but we didn’t have the affection aspect. It felt like we were friends. We would have our moments together, it was a great intellectual connection and physically being attracted to each other, but you could just feel that the chemistry was somehow off.
By the time that she left on that Sunday night, I could feel something was off between us. It just didn’t feel like we were leaving on a very connected note, I could sense something.
From that point we chatted a bit here and there but not much. A few days later I had a weird dream and she was in it. She was a joker who was mocking me, joking that there was something hidden she wasn’t telling me.
I woke up with a feeling of needing to talk to her. I sent her some messages on WhatsApp saying that I had a dream. She replied saying that yea, there was a disconnect and she wasn’t feeling things in the same way. That something was off physically between us. That she had expressed some of her desires of what she wants and I didn’t catch those desires, which led to a disconnect. She felt ignored.
Personally I felt we had never really had that conversation together. We didn’t talk those things through and it was something we could try to work through. But she didnt want any of that. She decided to leave it open and see where things go…and in Brazilian culture that usually means completely falling off the radar, which she did.
Since then I’ve seen her a handful of times, it was amicable and friendly, but I was a bit butthurt that after such a great initial connection she could just drop off the radar like that without ever talking things through. Disappointment was the major feeling there.
Here I was now, this was the 2nd time this year that I had met a girl, initially had a great connection, feeling is finally mutual, and then after 2-3 dates the energy fell off. What was I doing wrong?
The thought that came to mind? Comfort = Risk.
When it was the initial onset and I was hungry maybe I was more attentive, more engaged, listening more closely. Then once I knew that the feeling was mutual I relaxed a bit and let my guard down, which then led to me displaying a different energy than what attracted her in the first place. I got comfortable and fucked it up.
Was it also potentially merely a disconnect? That things didn’t work out and we legitimately didn’t have the right chemistry in both events? That it just wasn’t a good fit? Yes entirely possible. But I like to look for the patterns that I see in life, the themes of what I am going through and how they manifest in different ways. Two girls in a relatively short period of time where a similar pattern emerged. This theme of comfort = risk in love life was something that resonated with me. That perhaps I got too comfortable too quickly and wasn’t bringing the same me to the table I needed to.
Then on the flip side, here I was with this other girl on the side that I didn’t feel as strongly connected to, but when I thought about our physical connection, it was absolutely magical. She once said to me “a gente se encaixa bem”, which meant “our bodies fit well together”. Its absolutely true.
Ironically enough, this experience with the physical disconnect of the one girl made me then appreciate the physical connection that I have with the other girl all the more profoundly. It made me realize that maybe I was overlooking something magical with her. That her touch has been my cure and she makes me feel happy when I am with her and physically there’s amazing chemistry. She also had great communication and transparency, which the other one lacked.
So in all of this “let it unfold”, I actually ended up liking the original girl better than the one that I thought I liked. Interesting how that happened eh?
Let’s not kid ourselves though, within that feeling was also a feeling of settling. That maybe I’m convincing myself of what I’m grateful for what I already have, but all the same I also knew that this other girl wasn’t a long term fit for me either. I was convincing myself to like her more because she was my only option. While I genuinely do like spending time with her, I’m also not delusional playing mental convincing games with myself. I was rationalizing and justifying my settle for less through gratitude.
Circling back again to the story – I’m now living in the new house with the chef living there alongside me, and one other friend who stayed there just because I had enough space and he needed it.
The house is dope, Im having my best sales numbers by far, living a good lifestyle at the house, getting back on the highline consistently (in these months I went nearly every week)…life is fucking good at this point. I have the beach nearby, a waterfall nearby, some good friends and a chef to keep me company, shit is awesome! September through October were some really great months for me.
At some point in September I also organized my first Ayahuasca retreat at the house. We found a beautiful spot in the forest, built a fire, and let the medicine do it’s work. It was around 8 of my closest friends and it was an amazing experience together.
No real crazy takeaways here…but unfortunately afterwards when everyone was in need of recovery it did bring some tensions to the surface.
Living in the environment that I did with a dude who is working as my chef, one guy who was just living there, and then the girl that I was seeing, it just created a bit of a tense environment at times. In all honesty the chef and the girl I’ve been dating didn’t get along very well and fought a lot. It was mostly that.
I was too immersed in my own world to really care, and I encouraged both of them to work through their shit. I was too busy to be bothered with all of it. So while the house was awesome, the communal living style of things also got to everyone and caused some tension that I wasn’t a fan of in my little pocket of paradise.
Aside from that, I was also having some issues with internet in the house, and I did feel very isolated there as it was so far away. I wanted to get out.
I spoke with the owner and I was able to work out a deal where I could get out of the house early November although I had reserved it through Christmas.
The good news was also that around this time, Brazil opened up their borders again. This gave me a window to go home for thanksgiving.
November hit like a flash. I booked a new apartment for the first two weeks of November and got out of the old house, and then booked a flight to go back home for Thanksgiving to visit my family. All year I waited for my open window and then it presented itself to me.
I was also really excited to go home because it meant a potential short break. At this point I was beyond burnout, but I needed to keep pushing until end of December all the same. The Thanksgiving trip back home was an opportunity to sneak a few days of break in before I could really take some extended time off.
It all worked like a charm. I was able to successfully fly home, self quarantine for a week, get a covid test, see my family, eat bagels every day, and then fly back home to Brazil safe and sound. Seeing my family was awesome. We played board games and got really stoned and had some arguments but it was all in good fun. Was great to be able to physically see and hold and touch my parents and one of my brothers (other one was in Florida), and just be around everyone after a crazy year.
After that I flew back to Brazil, landed here and then December flew by in the snap of a finger. I closed the year strong sales wise and got to the finish line, and now I’m on a 3 week break as I recharge before entering into the new year.
The other beautiful thing that I want to include here is that as all of this was going on, in around October/November or so I told my best friend in the world that my company was hiring, and he was interested. I started training him up before I got too busy and passed him off to the other members of our team. Throughout the month of November he trained his ass off, and by mid December he started selling. Right before I was able to go on break he closed 7 deals in a week and had an amazing close rate. The company is now bringing him on board as the next sales guy!!!
For some additional context, the two of us have also had an insanely strange intertwined journey together. Met at around 7-8, grew up together and best friends since 12-13 years old. Went to University of Arizona together. Taught English in Korea together. Went our separate ways and then started entrepreneurial ventures/startups around the same time. Closed up shop around the same time. Found normal jobs again. Traveled the world together some more. I actually started selling for the Flow Research Collective while we were traveling Italy together. Wild stuff!
And now after all of these years, we finally get to work together selling a product that we love that is meaningful in our lives and helps other people. It’s all of our passions and life experiences together combined into one and now we get to ride this business roller coaster together and scale to infinity and beyond. Im excited and grateful and amazed at the miraculous journey that life has brought us through together. To be able to close the year like that was just very very special. Moments where you gotta pinch yourself kinda shit.
But wait….the year still hasn’t finished yet!!!
Christmas Eve my friends and I decided to mount my newly purchased highline. I spent the last week of the year camping out in my tent and highlining every single day. On my last session before the new year closed I had a personal best of mine where I walked a ton, and then my last three drops were just pure flow. It all capped off with bounce walking which was a complete flow accident. I then left the line and had a bottle of whiskey waiting for me to close out the year with a bang 🙂
While all of this above represents the narrative of what happened, when I look back on 2020 and think about what emotionally rises to the surface, there are a few major themes and parallels that I noticed.
The biggest one is that hands down by a very wide margin, last year was the most lucrative year of my life. I carried the our business on my back and sold my ass off, trained one guy, and then brought on my best friend who is now selling. I had over 350 deals and closed close to $2.5m in revenue. Not only that, I really carved out my identity within the company. Not only as a sales guy, but as a personality and a trusted opinion to go to. It feels really fucking good to know that I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and I rose to the occasion and crushed it. Really validating.
In order to get there though I didn’t work as sustainably as I needed to. Given the chaos of Covid I tried to pack my schedule and work my ass off but when I look back on it, I felt pretty burned out all year long. I was feeling it as early as March/April, I took a break by July after feeling it really creeping in, and then by November I was fried again. It’s really incredible I was able to do what I did numbers wise given how fried my mind was.
I expressed a lot of this in the article “setting a pace for life”. I never really quite discovered the right pace to be working at throughout the year, which often lead to me getting tired along the way. I was running a marathon but running each mile/km too quickly, finding myself really pushing hard to get to the finish line. Because of this I never really felt like I was really operating at my best. I was only operating at my best within the limits of working on an already fried kind.
The quote that has really resonated with me throughout that time has been “you don’t realize how fast your heart is beating until you stop running”. This was a lot of my year – I just kept running while my heart was beating out of my chest in need of a break.
However this is also really motivating to me now. I accomplished what I did on a mind that wasn’t operating at it’s full capability because I was tired. If I can get this sustainability piece of the puzzle right, the pacing part of the puzzle, I can accomplish some insane things this year. ALL of my numbers are smashable. I didn’t actually hit what I know I’m capable of. There’s more potential there if I can pace correctly. A lot more!
As I write that, I think that same theme applies to the highline. There’s a lot more potential there. I don’t think I’m achieving what I’m capable of yet. Didn’t make the progress I was hoping to see this year.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve seen great progress And I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m now at a level where I can consistently stand up, take 10-20 steps, fall, climb back up and do It again x 20. I still have my moments of stand up and fall, and I also have moments where I surprise myself and hit new bests.
Having said that, I’ve also faced a lot of setbacks due to injury, and in general my body isn’t complying with me as much as I’d like it to. I’m nursing an injury right now as I write this.
But I’ve had my moments where I’ve seen flow. Where I’ve seen my potential and what I’m capable of. And I want to get back there. I want to realize that potential.
The year of stepping into your potential. I’ve seen my potential in sales, I know what I’m capable of, but I’m not there yet.
I’ve seen my potential on the highline, and while it’s not consistent and I’m always injured, I know what I’m capable of and I’m just not there yet.
I’ll also add my writing here – something I largely avoided this year. I have potential, but is it really being cultivated as good as it could be? Not where I’m capable of getting to.
This theme of stepping into my full potential. Realizing my full potential. Or maybe not even full potential, because that could still take years to cultivate, but realizing potential. Realizing the capacity for growth. To do better and be better. To objectively look at what you did and say, “oh wow, there’s still so so so much room to grow”. To be really fucking motivated as well to see what that potential looks like. The “behind the curtain” effect. In sales, in highlining, in writing.
And what’s holding me back there still? These themes of pace, posture and? Persistence.
When I write persistence I do so in the context of this question of pacing, energy and burnout. Part of this “burnout” problem I believe is a mindset issue. Once I think I’m burned out and I’m tired, it’s like my mind wants to reach for relaxation and flip off. I start to resist things more. It’s like I know I’m burned out, but then this realization of being tired and burned out only amplifies the feeling.
Similarly after a run on the highline I always find myself asking myself the question “should I have stayed out there longer? Could I have stood up more times? Tried to cross more distance?”
Once I think I’m tired the mind comes in telling me that my risk for injury is higher and I start convincing myself that I should come back.
Part of me thinks this is a good thing. I’m not overextending myself. Not putting myself at risk for injury.
But this same mindset of trying to protect myself might also be holding myself back from my true potential.
The other day a friend said something to me that really resonated, he said “When you think you’re tired you’re just getting warmed up. You think you’ve used 80% of your energy but you’ve probably only used half of that. You haven’t hit the 2nd or third wind yet. You have so much more inside of you than you think you do.”
Same theme – you’re capable of more than you think you are.
I think that when I get tired I convince myself I need to stop and then I start resisting what I need to be doing. But am I REALLY tired? Am I REALLY dead? Or could I be pushing harder? Are these limits that are presenting themselves merely limits of my mind that I need to break through? Is there a 2nd wind I could be tapping into?
Steven Kotler talks about “The Habit of Inferiority” – that most people never train themselves to push through until the 2nd or 3rd or even 4th wind. We stop at the first sign of fatigue, and thus train ourselves into inferiority. I think I’m guilty of this.
When I think back on my life, I think that this mindset issue has arisen because of so many past injuries. I’ve always joked that “my engine is too big for my frame.” I’ll always push myself really hard, and then the next day I wake up and I’m injured. So much of my 20’s was learning how to pump the brakes. Slow down. Not push too hard and overextend myself. Do more with less.
Equally now the more that I’ve learned about the neuroscience of peak performance and flow states, recovery is the most essential piece of the puzzle. True peak performers are masters of recovery. No better performance enhancer than a good night sleep.
These were really valuable lessons as well. Learning how to slow down has helped me in all areas of life. I’m a lot calmer, more focused, less scattered, less impulsive and distractible. Slowing down and getting more sleep are essentials.
But now the tricky part is that I am using this justification of recovery as a means of convincing myself I’m tired and I should stop working. Saying “ah you’ve already done enough today, time to flip into off mode.” In work and in the highline I am noticing this the most.
Recovery has become so much of the emphasis that it’s like I want to do the minimum amount of work possible and at the first sight of fatigue I want to pump the breaks and recover. I’m afraid of injury, afraid of pushing myself too far, and I’m getting the sense that this is holding me back from achieving my goals.
Then on the other hand this year I was legitimately burned out. I suffered a handful of injuries due to my posture. As I write this I’m nursing another injury right now. Thank god I didn’t actually push myself harder because I could have also injured myself worse. Therein lies the dilemma. The double edged sword of pushing vs recovery.
A great microcosm of this is what happened to me last Monday. After three days straight of highlining I said to myself “tomorrow morning I’m only going to go out there and do 5 drops. Internalize some flow and then get off the line to go recover.”
That’s what I did. Super flowy session. Stood up and on each drop walked 10-20 steps. First time I had ever done that.
In that moment I had the thought to myself “Troy, if you want to cross all the way across, today is the day. You’re feeling good and walking well, you can do it.” – Then right after that another voice popped into my head “Troy, you have a sore muscle in your oblique, it’s been 3 days straight and your body is tired. It’s been a great session, leave and save it for another day before you overextend yourself.”
What did I do? I chose the latter. I felt happy with the run and decided today wasn’t the day to recklessly go after personal bests out of fear of hurting myself.
What happened? The next day I felt some pain in my oblique. Nothing crazy just some regular muscle soreness. Got a massage. Next day I woke up, pain was actually worse. I chalk it up to onset muscle soreness, as sometimes the second day is worse. Now it’s Thursday and I woke up still with pain. Friday, Saturday, and now today is Sunday and I’m sitting here writing still with the same pain in my oblique. Feels like a pulled muscle. (As I write this it’s now 3 weeks later – same pain is still there).
Thinking back to that moment on the highline, thank god I didn’t try to cross the whole thing! Imagine the pain I’d be in right now.
So on one hand I’m happy that I pulled the breaks because the injury could have been a lot worse. At the same time, I see my potential and I know I’m capable of crossing the fucking thing, so the injury is frustrating.
This is how the universe works. Little signs and patterns to follow. Last year the year started off with a bang and then I got sick. This year started off with a bang and now I have a small injury. Gotta laugh at the irony of it all. These little signs that the universe throws at us to “pay attention here”, the themes and tangents we need to pay attention to – and this is mine. On one hand I want to push harder, but then whenever I do I seem to get burned out or injured. Across all of these areas of my life these themes of pacing and persistence. How hard to work for what duration of time, when to take pauses, and when to push through.
I’m grateful. This is a part of my spiritual journey and my evolution. That in order to reach the potential I am looking for, these are the areas that I need to focus on. I have my signposts and direction markers to know what to do next. I equally have all the tools I need and ability to do it, so I feel great.
Switching gears a bit – Equally when I look back on this year the other pattern that emerged was with women. This theme of finding mutual love. The pattern of things fizzling out after 2-3 dates, where there is an initial spark but we didn’t maintain it.
I’ve had some really great women come into my life this year. One of whom that I mentioned here who I have a great physical connection with I’m still seeing, but I’ve also expressed that I’m not “in love” with her, that I don’t necessarily see a future together, but we enjoy each others company and have a good connection together.
Outside of my work, my writing, highlines, the biggest piece of my life that is missing and has always been missing is a love life. I’ve never been in love. I’ve had all of these amazing experiences traveling the world and doing cool shit, but love has always been elusive for me. The biggest goal that I would like to see come to fruition, the thing that would give me the biggest bang for my buck happiness wise, that would make the most meaningful difference for me? Love. I want love more than financial success or highlines (but do I? Hahahaha). I’ll put them on equal playing field. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong though. You can decide 😉
Love though. Love love love. I’d love to be in love and fall in love and have someone I’m excited to see and live and explore with. Let’s see if 2021 can bring that to fruition!
Having said that – another thought that comes to mind is that I haven’t attracted the type of woman I envision because I haven’t met my full potential yet. That I’m attracting women at my current level, and in order to attract the next level I need to up level myself. The more I strive towards the potential I have, the more likely I will be to attract a woman in my life who is at that same level of what I desire. Raise the bar and when I arrive she will be there.
Or maybe that’s some twisted weird “I’m not good enough” type of shit where I’m judging myself and I think I need to be this ultimate troy before I can find love, which could also totally be false at the same time. That I can instead find someone who sees my potential and I see theirs and we can reach it together.
I guess I’ll just need to let the show unfold…
So let’s see, what else haven’t I touched on. Work and pacing, highlining, comfort and risk, posture, women….ah. Marijuana.
Funny how my mind wanted to avoid this one 😉 Symptom of a drug addict at its best.
I love my reefer. Been smoking now for 15 years. Wild to write that, but it’s the truth. Marijuana has helped me immensely in so so so many areas of my life for so long. Really has helped me to focus and calm down and express and be more creative.
For the last few years though I’ve been feeling a nagging desire to completely quit cold turkey, and I just can’t seem to do it. I’ll take weeks off here and there, maybe a month or two as well, but I always find myself returning to it. I always find myself pick it up again, and then once I do it’s back to smoking every single day.
I think part of me is that there’s not really a huge benefit to stopping. Whenever I do I don’t feel all that different. Equally there’s not much negative that I get from it either. Not much pain that I feel from it’s usage that has negative consequences in my life.
I also think that again, I’ve developed this weird belief structure around marijuana as a performance enhancer for myself. That it helps me be more productive and find flow. Because of this, I’m afraid that if I stop I will have performance decreases. That I won’t be as good without having some cannabis in my system.
So somehow someway I always end up smoking again, and I don’t feel good about it.
Call it intuition, but when I think about this theme of realizing my potential, of getting tired and feeling burned out (laziness), everything im learning about the breath – I feel like weed is holding me back. Potentially already has been holding me back for a very very long time.
On one hand I feel like marijuana is enhancing my performance, and then on the other hand I feel that it’s holding me back. I’ve developed some funny belief structures over the years lol.
In all I feel that I need to find a healthier balance with smoking or stop smoking entirely. Again maybe it’s just pace and cadence. But another theme of what I need to work on this year is having a better relationship with weed or maybe taking some extended time off, because I want to see what I’m capable of without it.
That checks off all the boxes…but wait, no, there’s one final piece of the puzzle – writing. Again funny how my mind avoided this one too.
I didn’t write much over this last year, didn’t have much inspiration or shit on my mind to do so. Writing this long ass piece on 2020 though has been a lot of fun, and very motivating to get back to the process of. This year I need to carve out more time for my writing.
Part of this lack of writing last year was the lack of direction within my writing. Where am I going and what am I doing with all of this outside of therapeutic expression? What the fuck do I really want to write about?
As I wrote about in “mood, goal chasing, motivation and learning”, I’ve spent some time this year clarifying a lot of what I want to write about in the future, what I want to research and learn more about, and what can make a positive impact on people. What has come to mind is the idea to explore three tangents.
- Troy Story – Simply documenting more of my undocumented adventures. I really enjoy looking back on parts of my life and writing the narrative of it all, and I want to do that with my experiences in places like Argentina, South Korea, India, and Malaysia, which I largely haven’t written much about. These stories are also usually chock full of my personal philosophies and learnings, which is also good fun to unpack.
- ADHD as a superpower – I think ADHD is a misunderstood topic and I have a fun angle on it, as I believe it to be an advantage rather than a disability. I want to dive more into the neuroscience of it all and help people find better focus and attention without the use of drugs to do it.
- Highlines – Strangely enough there’s a ton of photos and videos and some podcasts, but no one who is really writing about highlining. Im curious to take a crack at it.
- I’ll also always have my random philosophical tangents and thought explorations mixed in as well 😄
(For all/any of these let me know if these interest you in the comments below and what you’d like to see more of).
Finally I think that’s it! Work, writing, highlines, love, less smoking, presence, posture, pacing, persistence, potential, comfort = risk….I think I’ve finally offloaded all this shit off my mind!!!!
Oh also the skin condition has been next to nonexistent ever since around September or so 🙂
Ah, I truly love this moment when I sit and think and pull on my feelings to see what comes up and nothing is there anymore. Empty. Ahhhhhhhhh. Space. Delicious space.
It’s all here on the page. 2020 fully processed and let go of.
Now I can reflect on where I am right now, here, in the present moment. A present moment I’m really truly grateful for.
I’m in such a fucking dope position in life right now. I live in Florianopolis Brazil where I am a five minute walk away from the beach and have abundant nature everywhere nearby, making more money I ever have doing work that I love, and on top of that I can walk on highlines nearly everyday (when im not injured lol). What the fuck else could I need in life?! Like seriously, despite all of these meandering thoughts and goals and themes of things I’m working on – I don’t need any of those to be happy. I’m really fucking happy/satisfied/fulfilled with where I am right now in life, and I’m having so much FUN doing it.
Why do I spent 2 days writing 10k words of my last year and what I learned? For me this is fun. I love this process. It brings a smile to my face.
Why do I sell flow? It’s so much fun. I talk to fascinating people all day about how to become a better performer in whatever area of their life they want to accomplish.
Why do I walk on highlines despite injuring myself all the time and putting myself at risk? Because I love it. It’s fun. It’s where I feel most alive.
I’m in such a good place right now in life and I’m having a lot of fun doing it all. If that’s not some guru shit idk what the fuck is muahahhaha.
I’m proud to say I live life like a badass and theres still room for it to continue to get better. And it will. Because despite all of this external madness what’s the greatest skill I’ve developed over the years? I’m oblivious to it all. I live in my little self created isolated bubble enjoying myself having fun ignoring all of the other shit that detracts from my happiness. And that’s why things will continue to move in a positive direction.
There’s no great solve all secret in life, but I believe that’s a big piece of it. Focus on yourself, your own happiness, your own growth and evolution, and block out the other things that aren’t contributing to that. As we say in the world of flow, reducing cognitive load. Putting all of the puzzle pieces in place that lead to happiness and just focus on that. Everything else is secondary.
I’m happy that’s the life I’ve built for myself. That I’m seeing 10 years of hard work now manifested in front of me with the game of life saying “now can you sustain and maintain it all?” – maybe that’s why I need to learn how to pace myself 😉
And on that note of sustaining, on a personal note (although all of this is pretty personal ) I’ve now been faced with a decision. My days are up on my visa here in Brazil, and the max I could stay is until end of March. Or I can apply for residency here which means I can stay, but I can’t leave until the residency process is finished. I’ve decided to go the latter. I don’t want to add more variables to my life and go restart and rebuild again somewhere else for half the year and then come back to Brazil later, so I’ve decided I’m just going to stay. The process could take me a year or more, but that’s the route I have to go.
Why? Like I said I have a great life here and can’t really ask for more. When you get it now you gotta sustain it. This is what I have to do to sustain it. Hard choice with some inherent risk attached, but these are the decisions we face in life, and I know that this is one that will lead me to a lot of long term happiness 🙂
So that’s where I’m at right now in life entering into 2021. Feel good. Feel motivated. Hungry.
Let’s get it lets get it lets get it yeeeeheeeeee!!!!
2 thoughts on “2020 Lookback”
This is really great Troy! Really inspiring to read about your 2020 =)