Every once in a while, a teenager needs to have his butt kicked. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Our loyal readers will recall Max’s musical talent. At 12 he was offered a contract with Beyonce’s dad and former manager, Mathew Knowles. At 15, Max auditioned alongside 80+ guitar players for just a few spots at the extraordinary Booker T Washington arts magnet school. He succeeded. At 16, he performed at L.A.’s legendary Whisky a Go Go and Viper Room clubs as part of a cross America tour. With all these accomplishments, this past year saw Max fall short of his musical or academic potential. Max preferred to “chill” and float.
Since August 2013, he fell into the Apathy Zone; a space we all experience at times. Parents of teenagers will relate to the increasing lack of influence you have on your own teenagers. They reach an age where any ‘butt kicking’ you attempt has more of a recoil effect than a positive correlation. (By the way, before sending you this email, I had Max give his blessing.)
Enter Mother Nature and a climb into the far reaches of the Himalayas.
When Max warmed up to the prospect of a summer holiday mountain expedition, we seized the opportunity. Why not have Mother Nature, instead of his parents, provide some guidance out of The Apathy Zone?
First, he needed to raise the money to go on the trip. He accumulated generous sponsors to join his team. But, that was just the warm-up for what Mother Nature has waiting.
Once on the trail, three choices will saturate his existence.
- Keep climbing
- Turn back
- Stand still and perish
Any one of these three has Mother Nature kicking some hinny. It will be difficult. Max will wonder, “Who’s idea was this?” He will need to live the ultimate meritocracy: Only if you climb will you benefit from a new vista. He will need to dig deeper than he has ever experienced. Relentless discomfort will facilitate unparalleled self-discovery.
Our expedition leader, Jeff Salz, calls nature the lazy teacher’s classroom. For me to accompany Max as an expedition teammate and, more profoundly, his father – it will be a privilege. To journey beside Max as he transforms in ways we can only imagine. It will be an experience of a lifetime – for both of us.
Maybe I’ll learn to be a better father. Hopefully, Max will better appreciate the hazards of The Apathy Zone. Likely, we will both be transformed.
Of course we hope for a safe expedition. But life has dangers regardless of the mountain we each choose to climb.
Starting next week, Max and I will post daily blog updates regarding our adventure. (We won’t inundate you with daily emails, but if you’re interested, you can sign up for the RSS blog feed here.) We will sum up our ‘education’ after the trek.
For now, let the butt kicking begin.