Seeing everything as an opportunity

Craig: Many people say that they enjoy overcoming obstacles, but when you say it, I know that you have a deeper, a more considered meaning behind that phrase, which is often thrown around quite lightly. [00:07:30] So I’m wondering if you can unpack a little bit about why you feel that overcoming obstacles has a deeper meaning for you?

Mat: For me, overcoming obstacles is a way of life. It’s my way of life. And it is the thing that I feel has ultimately changed my life and changed how I live. My experience is in everything that happens to me, or how I react [00:08:00] when things happen to me.

So before I learned Parkour, overcoming obstacles was not something I liked to do or something that I felt passionate about. An obstacle would happen, and I would feel like, oh no, this happened to me, and now I have to deal with this. This is a terrible thing.

But after learning Parkour, I started to see obstacles in a new light and a new way of thinking. So when something happens to me in my life, I don’t see it as a negative [00:08:30] thing. I see it as an opportunity for me to grow and become strong or demonstrate how strong I’ve become.

Something that’s recently, that’s happened to me, is I had my lung collapse. So old me, before Parkour, this would be a victim thing. This would be, “My lung collapsed. My life’s over. I’m gonna be stuck in bed forever. How dare this happen. Why me? So many other people, they live their [00:09:00] lives, and their lungs don’t collapse. Why did my lung collapse?”

Craig: Yeah, I was doing so great before this, but …

Mat: Yeah, and then I could just play on that for years, maybe for the rest of my life, I could use that as a disability, or why my life sucks is because I had a collapsed lung. But after learning Parkour and really finding and appreciating overcoming obstacles, when my lung collapsed, it was like, “Wow, here’s my chance to demonstrate how strong I have become.”

I’ve learned how to overcome [00:09:30] obstacles physically with my body, how to do pull-ups and climb-ups and kongs and all these different things. But here’s something that’s happened to me, and I’m gonna use that progressive method that I use when I’m doing Parkour. But I’m gonna use this with my body, and I’m gonna use it to get strong, and I’m gonna use it to get through the surgery. I’m gonna use it to become healthy fast, and then be able to get back to work and get back to doing what I love. I’ve done this before, so I can do it again. I’m just going to [00:10:00] get better and better at it.

Craig: That’s great mindset. Right.

Mat: Yeah, I didn’t see it as something that was terrible, and when I was in the hospital everybody was really impressed with me. I saw it as like, “Bring it on!’

Craig: Yeah, you were talking about the physical therapist, and you know, most people hate their physical therapist. “Oh, I don’t want to go. It hurts.” And your attitude was, “Yeah, tell me exactly what I have to do,” and your watch beeps every hour to remind you to breath, which is something they had you doing [00:10:30] as a physical therapy, but now it’s like that’s actually a really good thing to do.

Mat: Yeah, so they gave me exercises, and I loved them because I love exercises. I love trying to be strong. I love doing things in a progressive method where I break everything down into steps. So if they say, “Oh you do this step here, and then this step and this step, and you’ll be on your way.” And I say, “Yes, I trust that.” I know that. I know when I was learning kongs, I did not know how to do a full kong, but I broke it up into steps, and I learned each step, and then I put it together.

Craig: Understand the process.

Mat: [00:11:00] Yeah. So now, I could do this with my lungs. I could do it with my body. They sliced my back open to do the surgery, and so I lost all my pull-ups-

Craig: All the pull. Right.

Mat: All my upper body strength was gone, and at first I was hurt. I was like, “Oh man, I worked so hard on muscle-ups and pull-ups, and now I can’t even do one.” But then I was like, wait a minute. I’ve done it once. I can do it again. I know, actually, how to do it [00:11:30] better now.

Craig: Right.

Mat: So this time around, it’s gonna go a lot better than the first time I did it. So here’s an opportunity for me to focus on the fundamentals of pull-ups again. And the fundamentals of all my different exercises. Like as I felt like I lost it, and then I get to rebuild. So it was like a challenge. It was like a thing.

And so, with Parkour, we need to learn how to adapt to different environments. [00:12:00] So I just had to learn how to adapt in my life and adapt to having this big slice in my back. While I was in the hospital, I had to adapt having a tube in my lung.

Craig: In your lung.

Mat: Man, which was painful for a while, and oh man, it was so hard. But I knew that I could do it. You know, step-by-step, I could just watch the clock, and I’ll know [00:12:30] tomorrow I’ll be better than I was the day before.

Just like with Parkour, I’m getting stronger and stronger, more knowledgeable. And with going through the surgery, it was the same thing. It was just gonna happen again. You know? I know how to transform myself, and I’m gonna put it into practice.

I learned a lot of things from Parkour. I learned a [00:13:00] lot of valuable life lessons, but on the way, I’ve also learned things that seem unrelated to Parkour, but also, equally important life lessons. One of those life lessons that I’ve recently learned, but it’s been there throughout my whole life is turning bad things into good things.

And it’s weird for me to even say it bad because now, I kind of don’t believe there is bad.

Craig: You sort of realize those things [00:13:30] were actually good in the first place. Right?

Mat: Yeah, well to turn bad things into good things, it’s just I wonder if everything is actually good. And we just kind of make them bad, or we don’t want to adapt and change and learn.

Craig: Yeah, what makes it bad is your reaction to it. That’s what paints the bad onto the event.

Mat: So I’ve had some bad things happen in my life. Like how I was talking about earlier with my jobs that I didn’t like. [00:14:00] Those were bad, but now-

Craig: Yes, stressful, toxic, environments-

Mat: Now I really, truly appreciate and love what I do, where I’m working with kids, and I’m playing, and it’s a nice day, and I’m outside. Or I’m in a gym that’s comfortable, and we’re having a good time, and I’m doing it.

And it just makes me thankful. All the times that I was stuck behind the window or in [00:14:30] my cubicle at a desk, now just makes me really appreciate moving and feeling free and laughing and making jokes and doing all these different fun things.

Then even when things got bad at my other jobs, and I turned to drinking to try to get a way out. Now I appreciate how good and amazing it is to be sober. And how amazing is that experience. [00:15:00] It’s something I can’t give to somebody else, and I have a hard time describing it, but I have it for myself, and I love it. Sometimes it makes me so happy that I’ll cry from happiness. I would never have that though, if I never spent so many years being depressed.

Craig: If you hadn’t gone through the shadow, if you hadn’t walked through the valley.

Mat: So I learned that, and I tried to use that immediately. So something else that’s happened to me is that I [00:15:30] had my house robbed. I was at a first day of a job that I just started, and while I was at work training, my house was getting broken into.

Craig: Oh that’s horrible.

Mat: They were stealing my laptop, my monitor. They smashed my Go-Pro, and then stole the keys to my car, and I did not realize that until they took the car!

Craig: They came back later and took the car.

Mat: They [00:16:00] came back later in the night while I was sleeping. After I discovered my whole house was stolen- or all of the stuff in my house was stolen, and I went to bed. They came back and stole my car while I was sleeping.

I woke up, and I just look. And I’m like, “Did I leave my car somewhere else?” I don’t drink anymore. I couldn’t have just misplaced it. I’ve worked this out in my life. I know where my car is, but it’s not there. [00:16:30] Did it roll down the street?

Craig: No.

Mat: I mean it couldn’t have just rolled. Okay, it’s gone. Oh they stole it.

Craig: They came back and stole my car. Oh that’s rude.

Mat: Yeah, just like all the other stuff. So immediately, right off the bat though, from having all these different other experiences in my life that seemed to be bad, and I had such a hard time with them. And it took years until I understood that they were very good things to happen to me. I immediately put it into practice.

So I was like, okay, all my stuff’s gone. [00:17:00] I’m alive, and I’m okay. Like it’s not the end of the world. Can you believe that? For some reason, I always feared that losing your laptop and losing your camera and your car and different things, somehow that would end the world.

Craig: That’s somehow like, no that’s where the line is.

Mat: I’m like, oh my God no. I’m breathing. This is amazing. How can this possibly be? All my stuff’s gone, and I’m okay. I’m healthy, and I’m happy.

Craig: Did this [00:17:30] happen to you after your lung operation?

Mat: Yeah. Yeah. So this was shortly after. I’m still-

Craig: We’re laughing now, but this is not-

Mat: Yeah, it was just boom, boom. So I started to immediately put it into practice. I’m like okay, well maybe there isn’t bad things that happen. Maybe everything is actually good, and I just need to right now open my eyes to the possibility of what good could come out of this.

And I was like, all right, well what if I get a better [00:18:00] car than I had? And I was like, well that was like my nicest car that I’ve had. I mean it was the newest car I had. I’d kept it really, really super clean. People would get in my car, and they’d be like “Wow, how do you keep this car so clean? This smells like a new car.” But it wasn’t a new car. It was like a 2012, but it was the newest car I ever had.

Craig: You’d been taking care of it.

Mat: So, I let that come into my reality. I was like well yeah, I don’t know, maybe I can get a better car than I had before. Then [00:18:30] oh man, my camera’s gone. I can’t film Parkour. Well, what if you don’t really need to film Parkour right now?

Craig: How much time was I spending filming?

Mat: Yeah, what if I need to just practice Parkour not filming stuff? You know? And I was like okay, well I need to start doing Parkour with no camera, not filming anything. What about my computer? Well you hated design work for so much of your life, how about you live life without a laptop. See what that’s like. This is good for you. This is a gift. They took [00:19:00] your laptop, something that you’ve grown resent-

Craig: Yeah, it was actually a stone around your neck, and you didn’t know it until they took it away, and you stood up.

Mat: There you go. You know. And then I learned to appreciate it. My insurance company, luckily, I don’t know how it works. Normally it doesn’t work so well for other people. Things happened, and they were really strange.

One day it looked like I was totally screwed, that I was gonna lose thousands [00:19:30] of dollars off this. I wasn’t gonna get a new car. I was gonna have to get like a used car or something like this. Then the next day, it was like, oh no, actually it could work out. There was like this weird thing with numbers and the math, and now it’s taken care of. And it kept on going up and down, and I just kept on trusting that everything would be okay, and it’ll work out exactly how it should.

Craig: I’ll work that out when they make a decision. Right? I’m not gonna freak out.

Mat: It’ll work out how it will work out. And I ended up getting the nice car. I ended up getting a car [00:20:00] nicer than my old car in every way. My new car has better gas mileage, way better gas mileage. I never had a car that had such good gas mileage. Like now it’s like a hobby of mine, and I find enjoyment getting good gas mileage going down the street.

Craig: Hyper-mileing. Right.

Mat: I’m like, yes! I can’t believe this is possible. I’m doing it. It’s a newer car. So I had a 2012, now I have a 2015. So I really lucked out. My payments [00:20:30] are also so much lower. I really couldn’t actually afford the old car that I had, and I was always praying please help me with my bills.

Craig: Yeah, if I could just make it.

Mat: And then I made a joke that like the angels took my car away because they were tired of paying your bills for you every month. You don’t need this car. We’re gonna get you something else. It’s better, and it’s cheaper, and now you can be a coach. And you can only do that for a living, and you don’t have to have this expensive car payment, and you don’t have to spend all your time on a computer.

[00:21:00] But recently, today actually, I opened up my new computer for the first time. I had some hard time with it actually. I got so used to not having it in my life, that I really appreciated not having it in my life.

Craig: Not having it in your life.

Mat: But I’m opened to the fact that well, I’m gonna let new things come into my life, and I’m not gonna hold onto them so tight like I did with my other [00:21:30] belongings. If somebody comes and steals my new laptop, it’s okay. If somebody comes and steals my new car, it’s okay. I can have nice things, and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out.

So now I have a new laptop, and my new laptop is better than my old laptop. And I’m getting a new camera that’s better than my old camera is.

Craig: I’m sensing a pattern here. Right?

Mat: Yeah, so this has been, just something that I really wanted to share with everybody that’s listening to this podcast, is that you [00:22:00] really can turn negative, bad situations into good positive ones. It’s just how you see it, and if you’re ready. If you can open up and believe the possibility of something good could happen. It can.

If you’re new to Parkour, and you are doubting, I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can do Parkour. Or maybe [00:22:30] you want to be a Parkour coach, and you’re doubting that too. I would say just try to open up and be able to receive it.

See it as a possibility in life, and say, “Let it be an option.” Don’t instantly say, “Oh no this is bad. I can’t do it.” “Oh my lung collapsed. I can’t breathe anymore for the rest of my life, I’m totally done. I can’t exercise.” Or “I hurt my ankle once. I’m not good at Parkour.”

Craig: Right. Give up. Give up at the first sign [00:23:00] of difficulty.

Mat: Just use it as things to grow, and then you’ll be so much stronger after that.