November 8th, the people that were angry and afraid took to the polls.
November 9th, the people that were angry and afraid took to social media.
November 10th, my anger, and my fear put me on a plane to San Jose.
Of course only after getting to bed the night before at 3:30Am. I’ll let you figure out why. (Hint, the answer is in the next picture.)
It kicked off at 3:00 AM starting a 26 hour day that included a cross-country flight, a diet of protein bars, salt and vinegar almonds and Dentyne gum. The mint melon is delicious. I actually woke up at 3:19, I can’t figure out my alarm.
Whether I was in Albany, Chicago, or ultimately San Jose, the air was filled with uncertainty. If you’re wondering why, because this happened.
It was going to be a long day. The event kicked off at 12pm PST and was scheduled to go until 1AM with the infamous “Firewalk” being the closer. I anticipated getting to bed by 2:30am PST, which would have made it 5:30 EST. Making this a glorious 26 hour and 11 minute day. Goddamn alarm. My Carhartt backpack, so graciously given to me by the proprietor of the Safety Wearhouse in South Glens Falls. The Safety Wearhouse, Fashion with Function; was filled with my supplies for the weekend:Team Beachbody Engergize supplement, my Green Drink for Alkalinity, protein bars and Salt and Vinegar almonds for the event. Plus a lot of gum. A LOT of gum. During my 4 plus hour flight from Chicago to San Jose, I decided to knock back a serving of Energize. Energize by the way is like Predator blood bright in color.
Imagine me trying to scoop out of a plastic bag this bright neon powder while wearing a black fleece sitting in the far from roomy Southwest 737 airline seat. People were looking at me like I had anthrax. If they weren’t they should have been. The girl next to me knew right away what it was. Next thing you know I’m sharing the rest of my flight next to an amazing Team Beachbody Coach, Super Nurse, and superb mother of two from Ohio. (Nurse at Ohio State University). And guess where she was going? That’s right, Chico!
(Inside joke. When I was 18, Hippie Keith took a bus from Vermont to Chico because someone said it was awesome there. So there I was, 18, covered in hair and hemp with nothing but a bag of clothes, my djembe drum, and $1700 strapped to my belly. And when I got there, I spent 3 months wondering why the hell was I in Chico, California before I eventually flew back)
For the next 3 hours, we shared personal story after personal story. At one moment we even laughed acknowledging that we were sort of “pre-gaming” the event. Both of us were childlike in our eagerness to see what awaited.
After wishing each other nothing but exactly what they needed, we set off in separate directions to the same destination.
This is part of the story where I could EASILY rip into the Courtyard Marriot for not providing me my shuttle I ordered the day before. Or the fact that Uber is the definition of hit or miss. Fortunately, I met some great people through Uber and the Courtyard Marriot paid for a taxi. Life could have been worse. For you see, anger was not allowed as an emotion to dominate this voyage. As we all can attest, isn’t always the case when one is traveling. But this had to be different. It needed to be different.
Prior to making the decision to go, I checked on hotel rooms to see if I could get a place to stay the night before. This would have eliminated not only the aforementioned 26 hour day, but I could have also registered. Not happening, my hotel was booked solid. This kind of became a hemorrhoid. Not literally. The line to get into the building was about 2 football fields long. Not all that bad, right? Well, guess what was waiting for me once I finally entered my new home for the next 4 days? Another line that went around, down, back up, and around the other half of the SAP Center. If you want a complete architectural description , I’m clearly your guy. Nonetheless, you just kept meeting fascinating people! Without any idea that this was just a sign of things to come. And for those that truly know me, how long do you think it took before I not only introduced myself, but bragged about being on a cross-country flight since 5am EST? If you said anything more than 30 seconds, we’re obviously not close.
Once registered I turned out to be the last person in the entire registration line to receive the Tony Robbins best-seller: “MONEY” Master the Game. No joke, there had to be at least a couple hundred behind me. Everything was now coming up Keithy!
I’m not an idiot, you more than likely started reading this just to find out what the hell a Tony Robbins “seminar” is like. So finally, here you go. You’re welcome.
What is a Tony Robbins event like?
A lecture mixed with a rave mixed with a Phish show mixed with a rock concert mixed with a Gospel Reading (not literally) mixed with a stand-up comedy routine mixed with sporting event mixed with a TED Talk mixed with group meditation mixed with AA meeting mixed with.. And I ran out of adjectives. This is not hyperbole.
The presence, the energy, the crowds reaction to Tony Robbins is unparalleled. He has this charm to him that completely makes you want to listen to every syllable that comes out of his mouth. He’s knowledgable, comedic, and more than anything, authentic. It’s impossible to not love him.
The room had to be sub 55 degrees. And I get that an NHL hockey team plays there (San Jose Sharks) but that’s not the reason. High energy is crucial. How do you keep high energy? Keep the room frigidly cold, feed them info for 45 minutes and then feed them fun for 15. Sometimes the fun outlasted the info. Afterwards you have to give a complete stranger a hug, then another, then another, then another, and then another. At one point it was 9 hugs and then you could sit down. It didn’t hurt that I had a blue eyed Kim Kardashian to my right. And I’m pretty sure the son of Jon Hein to my left. Guess which one I had to hug first.
He was a sweet kid, that was dealing with a massive trauma in his life. I will consistently make jokes about those I was with or near, but they were some amazing people just looking for change. Looking for hope. Looking to be loved by themselves.
This was unlike ANYTHING I have ever experienced and I’ve: eaten acid at Phish, seen the NY Giants win a playoff football game on a Super Bowl run, eaten mushrooms at Phish, been to Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas, lost my hearing at a Justin Timberlake, saw a kid get rifled in a mosh pit at Disturbed and Korn, seen the Mets Vs. Yankees with Matt Harvey on the mound, I’ve even seen Michael Jordan play. For Christ’s sake, I’ve even been to Wrestlemania where Salt N Pepa played “Whatta Man” and Lawrence Taylor was the Main Event vs. Bam Bam Bigelow.
I watched as people were asked in the audience in what is called an “intervention”, what holds them back in life? Two people stood out. A man that was hunched over thinking he would never be enough. By the end of it, he was walking like his cock was a foot long. Another was a woman that lost her child during labor. This was tough. By the end of it, she realized there ARE options. Tony has multiple children from his previous marriage that were not his biological children. He made the point of saying, “Do you think I don’t love them like they ARE my own? I adore them!” Not only did this resonate, but what really got the both of them and us, was when Tony asked the audience if anyone has felt or gone through what not only she, but the previous man had gone through? A massive amount of people raised their hands. It really started to sink in, we’re not alone here. We’re among friends.
Unleash the Power Within was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. The greatest thing I’ve ever been a part of. The greatest decision of my life. And it wasn’t even 3 hours old!
Opening night consisted of telling secrets to complete strangers, yelling so much I lost my voice, jumping up and down for 10 minutes…5 minutes…2 minutes…30 seconds…10 seconds straight for 10 hours. Clapping until my hands hurt, hugging, high fiving, crying and laughing hysterically. Even Pitbull showed up and played. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of “Mr. Worldwide.” But, fast forward to today and I’ve downloaded this song and can’t help by smile and move when I hear it:
All of this was leading up to the 1000lb elephant in the room, we were going to walk on fire!
To say the crowd of 10,500 thinned out as we were leading up to it would be like saying that Donald Trump winning the election was a pleasant surprise. The majority remained, though. After being prepped, meditating, tricks to change our mental state, and taught how to walk across the coals (power walk). We took off our shoes and socks and walked to the parking lot at 1am clapping our hands and chanting, “Yes, Yes, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!” Say that aloud and anyone within ear shot is thinking you’re…you know…
Once this mass of positive energy made it’s way to the SAP parking lot, we were greeted by loud African drum beats (Hippie Keith was elated) and 35 rows of hot coals.
“LOOK UP, DO YOUR MOVE, SAY YES, SAY YES, WALK ACROSS WITH YOUR HEAD HIGH CHANTING THE WORDS ‘COLD MOSS,COLD MOSS, COLD MOSS’. STOP WIPE YOUR FEET AND THEN CELEBRATE!!”
That is what ingrained into our heads prior to the walk. Also mentioned were those that got burned while trying to take selfies in Texas. Oh, plus the fact that the reason why we had to wipe our feet before they washed them off was because we could get hot coal in our toes. You could literally hear air being sucked out of the arena when he mentioned that little nugget. Which was of course followed by, “Oh you guys didn’t think of that huh?” We were told absolutely not to run. Why? Imagine tripping. That’s how you get a souvenir. About those who got hurt in Texas, the way they set it up, you have to be a special type of stupid to get severely burned. Truthfully, I wasn’t scared, not even nervous, just excited about experiencing something truly unique. Even though I’m pretty sure on more than one occasion while black out drunk I walked across a campfire. Yeah, I’m almost positive. Yeah, I’m positive. So this wasn’t shit. Put it up 150 feet in the air, now I’m a little nervous. Keeping my short ass on the ground, no worries whatsoever.
Here is what the firewalk consisted of.
You are a mass of people trying to figure out where to go by following the crowd and smoke. Once there, you start hearing people cheering like they just scored the game-winning touchdown. The crowd gets thinner, and thinner, and thinner as they are breaking off into lines. All the while people are clapping chanting “Yes, Yes, YES!” African drums are just blaring. Felt very tribal! I’m basing this off of all my experiences with tribes. I have however been to a “Bread And Puppet” where a drum circle lasted until 6am. On acid. Anywho, when there you are instantly 3rd in line.
Guy screams: “LOOK UP AND CHANT COLD MOSS! YOU GOT THIS!”
I don’t know why we chant cold moss. And we were told to look up because if you look down, you may realize that you’re walking on hot fucking coals.
You step up and you’re now second in line. You notice you just stepped into a puddle of water. It’s dark and everyone seems to be wearing black, so you’re hoping someone didn’t piss and this is what you’re currently standing in so you’re hoping it’s water. Before that pleasant thought sinks in, you see the person in front of you finish and at that moment a woman calls you up and you are now on grass. She yells with a huge smile on her face,
“You got this, you ready? DO YOUR MOVE!”
You make this chest thump like “FUCK YES LET’S DO THIS! ROAR!” (I didn’t say roar, nor did I roar, I’m just giving you internal dialogue)
Say yes she yells: “YES!” I instantly respond.
Say yes she yells again: “YES!” I let out in a primal scream!
She yells, “LOOK UP!” You do!
“GO” and you go and people are just yelling at you:
“YOU GOT THIS!”
“COLD MOSS! COLD MOSS!”
I truthfully don’t even know if I said cold moss once. Because the next thing you know I’m on grass having my feet bathed in hose water and trying to remember what the fuck to do. Oh yeah, my toes, wipe my feet. Have I mentioned that this is now 25 hours since I woke up? Oh and all that is in me are protein bars and salt and vinegar almonds. Yeah, I kinda had to take a shit. Which isn’t a big deal when you’re walking across hot fucking coals!
And the last thing you do? celebrate!
Holy shit! I did it, my God, I did it! Not shit, the walking on coals part.
The whole experience of walking on coals was a complete metaphor. If you can do this, you can do anything. Which was glorious, because now I had to deal with Uber!
Day 2 was slated to begin at 9:30am and my head finally hit the pillow at about 2am. I’m ahead of the game! I just needed sleep.
For day two, we were going to be introduced to someone new and this is when I found out that this was nothing.
All we were doing was preparing for day 3!
For anyone looking for information about the event or anything to do with Tony Robbins, please call: Angel McDonnell at 858-535-6287. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be sure to tell her that I sent you.
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