The story – behind the book and the photo – is a celebration of arrival. Not the arrival of a teenager who just crossed France on roller skates, but the arrival of a teen into adulthood. Fueled by testosterone and hubris, guys tend to test their limits of invincibility by going farther, faster, each time pushing the envelope a little closer to death. If they live to tell of their self-imposed conflicts to overcome mind and body, their stories of surviving the metamorphosis take similar shape. We all write the same story; the vehicles change through the generations.

Cerbère, France

Michael celebrates roller skating across France in Cerbère, France, June 14, 1981

The trick is to make it alive to the point you can call yourself a grown up, but keep the fun of being a kid. Within us is a diamond; the enormous radiant self which shines like the sun at birth. Each of us finds a different way to sully the luster as the years pile on rubbish. We begin to fear, to doubt, to mis-trust. With each exposure to the evils of the world, we build a stronger lockbox, a higher wall where our true self can enjoy ultimate shelter from harm. We fortify it with concrete, protect it with weapons, and shield it from the world with psychological strategies; games we call defense mechanisms. We bury it in such a deep dark hole that we often forget it’s there.

But without a doubt, it is still there.

Through travels and adventures, through the physical removal of ourselves from the environment that caused us to stockade our hearts,  I believe we can uncover that gem of true self, reveal the sheltered radiance and let it shine in the light of day. Getting out on an adventure by yourself – perhaps a little too far out – can get you into a little trouble. Without a safety net, without the usual ways you’d fix your troubles – your smart phone, a credit card, or a call for help – there’s only you. And when you quickly find the “you” that departed on the adventure isn’t enough, a deeper you will be found. If that deeper version can’t solve your problem, you’ll clean and dig into your soul and finally come across a tiny glimmer of long forgotten light. Keep digging until you can grab that light and carry it over your head like a beacon of your true self. That’s your diamond, that’s who you are. That’s the person that can do anything.

Hold that diamond.