Even though Hardee and Tom are as active as you might think, it’s not necessarily about the exercise for them. Or is it? Getting down and dirty with something that you might enjoy but also keeps you fit is an important tool in being healthy and ready to face life’s challenges. The guys talk about what they’ve been up to and ways that they have used their passions to sugarcoat dreaded exercise.
When I dove head first into birding it became a borderline obsession pretty fast. A way to put my troubles in check and get satisfaction in becoming better at something new daily. I chased birds up and down the east coast like a man possessed. Possessed by that deep need inside me to be good at something, anything, to take the sting out of what I felt I wasn’t very good at, LIFE. Every time I saw a new bird it was like a dopamine shot and it brought my pride back up to the surface where I thought it belonged. Hyper Manic, maybe. Scared to truly deal with my ego, probably. Was this a disaster waiting to happen, or just a chance to get back up to the surface before the real work began?
I’ve always done a fair job of taking control of my life narrative. It’s my life damn it, I’ll tell the story please. Not a loved one, friend or acquaintance making some half assed assumption about what’s going on in my brain. I would tell stories of chasing birds like Hunter S Thompson talked about chasing drugs. I was starting to feel happy again, important in my own mind. Problem was, there was something inside that I kept hidden from myself, that I didn’t want to deal with, and that was just fine to me. I was done hurting and I wasn’t going to let me or anyone else hurt me again.
As my bird count started to rise, and my photos got better, I started interacting more with other birders. I also kept going to therapy. One day my therapist told me the way I was handling my relationship with my wife was the worst of the three options I had. The options were: work on the relationship, leave, or bottle it inside and try to ignore it like I was doing. I respect my therapist and took this advise to heart. The next week my wife and I had a therapy session and it was an anxiety rave in my brain. The night of that session I tried something new. I’m not to the point where I want to share what that was yet, but something amazing happened. I was able to confront my ego head on and realize how much I loved my wife for what she is instead of what I thought she needed to be. You see, before I lost myself I was the most in love man I knew, I just wasn’t doing a good job of showing any body that, especially her. After my experience that night, I realized to have that love again I needed to create an environment for her where Gray can be Gray. Just like the woman I fell in love with, and a love like I always thought we had, but had never truly done my part to nurture.
Early on in my birding someone said wait until you notice the butteries and dragonflies. Now I understand what they meant. Instead of obsessing about a bird count I’m noticing the butterflies and dragonflies. Gray has always been my butterfly. I just had to let go of chasing birds for a minute to be able to notice that again.
I’m still chasing birds, but now it’s without a need to accomplish anything but balancing my life, connecting with my wife and daughters, connecting with people, with nature, and sharing my ups and downs with others.
Hardee and Tom reflect on their passions for shooting and photography, discuss the meditative aspects of both, and break down their favorite gear. Also: birds. Lots of birds.
In this intro episode, Tom and Hardee talk about how they met, their first camping trip together, and what they hope to accomplish with their new podcast. Enjoy and be sure to check back here for future episodes or subscribe through iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!
Here’s a piece I wrote for New Hope Audubon, which chronicles my story and how I came into the world of birds…