Earlier today, at a press conference held in the lobby of the beautiful Marc Antony Hotel in downtown Ashland, Oregon, local author and life coach Dr. Rick Kirschner made a stunning announcement that has left many of his students, clients and friends scratching their heads.
“I’ve discovered that I am not really happy, nor will I be, until I return to my true passion in life, Landsurfing. Unlike in 2003, I’m convinced that this is the moment to fulfill my lifetime dream of becoming a national champion landsurfer.” – Rick Kirschner
I spoke with Dr. K some time later. At 60 years of age, many say Rick is too old to take on such a challenge. The average age of a landsurfing champ is 23 years old. The reigning champ, Argo Haston, is 27, and most reporters say he’s just getting started in the sport.
But if you ask Rick, he’ll tell you that a person is never too old to follow their heart.
“I’m not that old, anyway. Ask my wife, ask my friends. They’re always telling me to ‘grow up.’ Rick declared with a smile.
Rick has already had a number of careers. Not because he was fired alot either, he claims, but rather, “I have pursued my interests, and changing careers comes naturally to me.”
When it comes to fulfilling this dream, he doesn’t seem willing to wait any longer. “When I was a boy, growing up in the mid-west heartland, there was a lot of land, and the surfers ruled the land. Other than girls, it was the only thing I could think about. I thought Alp Lorifo and Apollo Foi were the coolest guys alive. The earth was theirs to ride, and they had such style.”
Rick copied their style, too, from madras shorts to seersucker suits, Canoe cologne and penny loafers with a penny stuck in. He fondly remembers the ‘59-’63 championship see-saw, as the two champs took turns winning every other year.
“It was incredible! That’s what made landsurfing America’s other national pastime! Once I saw how it was done, once I tried doing it myself, I just had to have that kind of excitement and sense of freedom in my life.
“I’d get up at the crack of dawn, lay on the floor in my pajamas, watch those NCLL (National Championship Landsurfing League) showdowns and imagine that it was me making those moves, taking the trophy. Yes, I know it was all in my mind, but to me it felt very real. I could see the crowds gathering around the last hill, shouting my cool landsurfer dude name, Reno McRickster, as I slipped gracefully across the finish line. I could imagine being handed that gigantic trophy and being swept up by the crowds and carried above the land. I just knew that I was destined for landsurf greatness when I grew up someday! And that day is now!”
Reno McRickster, I asked incredulously? ”Yeah,” he replied. ”Cool, huh?”
Consider his story and it kind of makes sense. As he grew up, Rick readily admits that he let his dream slip away. Instead, in 1968, he went looking for himself, only to find himself a few years later in college studying pre-med, with a baby on the way. He earned two degrees, began seeing patients, working with clients, giving speeches, and writing several books. He was too busy and had too much responsibility to landsurf.
“It’s been hard these past many years keeping away from the sport, the competition. But for the last year and a half, I’ve been working out, practicing in my free time and off hours. There’s a great landsurf park near my house, actually.”
I reminded him that even though the sport still has its fans, it isn’t what it used to be, isn’t that park pretty much empty now, practically forgotten? Rick’s natural optimism kicked in. ”That’s worked to my advantage. I’ve been able to get my balance back, without the embarrassment and humiliation of getting jeered at by the younger folks with every fall or scrape, which hardly ever happened at all. I got my rhythm back too, my mojo is working, the force is strong in me. This is it. It’s now or never. All this talk about living a life by design, well, now it’s my turn. I can’t put it off any longer. I’ve got to fulfill my dream.” Rick’s eyes look off into the distance as he talks, as if he sees some fabled land where his “cool” name is the stuff of legend. His eyes glaze over and he becomes incredibly quiet.
I hated to interrupt his reverie, but the silence felt awkward. I asked him if he would miss the speaking, educating and coaching. A sad look came over him, and in a low, gravelley voice choked with pent-up emotion, he replied, “It’s hard to take this chance again. I love professional speaking, I love working with small groups and individuals, you can ask my clients. I love the opportunity to help people organize their lives around their values, improve their communication and enhance their persuasion skills. I love helping people to embrace the opportunities of living life fully now.”
It sounded true, I said, but isn’t walking away from all that saying something different? “I’m not walking away, I’m walking towards. And I’m sure I do so with the help and support and encouragement of the people I’ve served. And I’m still available for all those things. Call me. Schedule an appointment. Bring me in to your company. Let me speak to your professional association. It’s all good. Heck, this landsurfing is making me better at everything else I do. And I do it for my people.”
I asked him who he was referring to as his ‘people.’ He looked at me like I was an idiot, then replied, ”I’m so grateful to the people who have listened to me speak, or read something I wrote, or who think I’m someone else and say hello, and then don’t look too disappointed when they realize they’ve mistaken me for someone else.
“ They are, and always will be, my people. The little people. No matter how big I get, I’ll never forget them.” Rick laughed, then added, “And no matter how big I get, they’ll never forget how small I once was. At least the ones that remember!”
This writer has to admit. Rick is in great shape. He’s mentally, emotionally and physically fit. For a guy his age, anyway. And it’s obvious that he’s not going to back away or quit, even though landsurfing is not without risk. But he’s in for the duration, and, pardon the rhyme, filled with elation. Rick’s body of work has crossed the lines from music, to speaking, to the written word and html. Now he has the national landsurf title in his sights. If his track record is any indication, if anyone can defy the odds and win that title in a young man’s sport, it’s Rick. We’ll all be rooting for him!
In case it isn't obvious (You'd be amazed how many people called to wish me luck!) there is no such thing as Landsurfing, and this was an April Fool's Day posting, nothing more. I'm still giving speeches, doing training and coaching clients.