I started writing this blog post in the Fall of 2019.
My father had been admitted to the hospital for a pretty serious issue with his carotid artery blood flow in July of 2019 and I went north to see him.
After a rather simple, yet scary, surgery, a long night of recovery, and a few months of rehab, he was better than he had been for years. But, the reality of losing him had left its mark on all of us.
My Dad likes to tell stories. In fact, it’s one of the things that makes him an amazing salesperson. He can find something in his life that relates to anyone, anywhere, at anytime.
“You’re going on a spaceship to Mars? Hey, did I tell you about that time I worked on a project in college to develop dried fuel cells for NASA before I started playing professional golf?”
Now, I’m not sure if he actually ever worked for NASA, but in the spirit of one of my father’s cardinal rules, you should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
My Dad has three categories of stories: golf, fireplaces, and driving directions. And as limited as that may seem, it’s not.
Think about it. CrossFit only uses three modalities of movement – monostructural, weightlifting, gymnastics – and we have yet to exhaust the infinite possibilities of their combinations.
So, golf, fireplaces, and directions have served my father and his many audiences just fine for more than 50 years.
As I sat next to his hospital bed the night after his surgery, he proceeded to cycle through about 5 hours of stories. I’d heard them all before but this time, something was different. Perhaps it was the legitimate threat of him dying, maybe I experienced some kind of contact high from the drugs they were giving him, or maybe I had finally grown up enough to actually listen to the stories a little bit closer.
Whatever it was, I started to hear connections between my own obsession with CrossFit and my father’s stories.
A blog post blossomed in my mind.
All these Pat Ryanisms were a coaching gold mine and I had just tapped the biggest vein on the mountain.
But when the sun rose and discharge time came and went, the inspiration faded. Like the morning after prom, the ideas looked a little bit rough and not quite ready for the light of day.
So, I shelved the idea and simply enjoyed the rekindled interest in my Dad’s stories whenever we hung out.
But in the back of my head, a little buzz kept humming. So, instead of forcing myself into a full blown blog post, I simply jotted down ideas. Little thoughts. Fragments of things he would say. Stuff I would find myself hearing that sparked a fire in my mind and that, if I was so inclined, I could whittle down into an Instagram-worthy meme.
Almost two years later, I have a lengthy list of “It’s Just Pat” entries that I’d like to share.
Here’s the deal: these ideas aren’t mine. Well, in a sense, they are, but in a sense they aren’t. I mean is any idea really ever our own? But let’s not get too distracted with such philosophical nonsense.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you a few of what I feel are Pat Ryan’s greatest hits. I’ll do my best to group them into some kind of categorical structure but in the spirit of a conversation with Pat, the order doesn’t really matter.
What matters is the experience. And there in lies our first lesson, folks.
I already gave you one of my all time favs: don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
What makes my Father such an amazing story teller is that he offers his audience the experience of his story. He lets you feel where he is going with the tale and if you aren’t, he’ll adapt the story to fit your needs.
If his story took place in Memphis, he might tweak it a bit so it fits the details of your town in Virginia. But don’t worry, the details will be just close enough because whether he’s been to your town or not, he knows how to make it work.
It’s all about the experience and stimulating that connection.
If my Dad coached CrossFit, he’d be a workout scaling wizard. Every workout offers an optimal experience if we are willing to lean into it but too often we get wrapped up in the details at the expense of that experience.
Pat would see that struggle and his artful redirection of your journey would feel seamless. He’d see, correct, and the next thing you’d know, you’d be convinced that he actually DID work for NASA and you’d be excited about doing burpees on Mars.
These days, when I hang out with my Dad, I listen. And I learn. And I realize that the details matter but they matter a lot less than the chance to just sit and experience the journey of the story.
So, don’t let what you think is the truth of your own story get in the way of your good time. Maybe the path your story needs to take isn’t what you thought it was going to be…and that might be ok.
Bottom line, if you are looking for a good deal on a fireplace, need some help with your golf swing, or want directions to the best BBQ joint in North Carolina, give Pat a call.
Just make sure you’ve got a couple extra minutes – he likes to talk.
See you on the Creek.