Hello my friends!
Last Friday night I watched the documentary “McConkey” & it affected me much more than I expected it would. The film portrays the life of a revolutionary, brilliant, often-hilarious ski/base jumping pioneer named Shane McConkey. Its poignant, remarkable footage from all aspects of McConkey’s life makes it one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.
Over the past few years I heard about Shane McConkey during annual visits I made to Alpine Meadows, California. Alpine Meadows is just a few minutes away from the stunning Squaw Valley, home to the McConkey residence. Squaw Valley is also where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held.
Until Friday, all I knew about Shane McConkey was from reading in Tahoe newspapers that he was beloved by Lake Tahoe residents and that he died at age thirty-nine in a base jump accident in Italy. I had NO idea about his incredible life.
I laughed and cried while watching this film. I felt free to express myself fully since I was alone – I like it that way. (Everyone else was in another room watching an inane Disney show that sets my teeth on edge.)
I’m not an expert skier or base jumper, but I had a couple things in common with McConkey. I was born almost three months after he was. When McConkey was three, his parents divorced and his mom Glenn brought him to Santa Cruz, the area where I live. He eventually moved away, ultimately trying out for the United States Ski Team. It’s hard to believe he didn’t make the team, but he was clearly meant for bigger and better things.
At the time of his death Shane McConkey left behind his three-year-old girl Ayla and his extraordinary South African wife Sherry. Sherry eventually started the Shane McConkey Foundation with the mission to “carry on his legacy through random acts of kindness and charitable giving, and to inspire others to make a difference in the world at large.” Sherry was heavily involved in the making of “McConkey” and was interviewed extensively on camera for the film. I was amazed and inspired by this remarkable woman’s strength in the wake of her soulmate’s death.
I must admit that it felt great to get lost in a film that didn’t mention bipolar or mental illness in any way, shape or form. While the word “crazy” might have been used once or twice to describe McConkey’s off-the-hook feats, that was it. It seems that I’m always thinking about bipolar-related topics, which is obviously something I need to work on. To take a two-hour-long break from all things bipolar felt so healthy for my (bipolared-out) brain!
I want you to have a break too! I encourage you to treat yourself to an activity that will give you a well-deserved vacation from worrying about your mental challenges. You can watch a movie or even a silly Disney Channel show like “Dog With a Blog” or “Liv and Maddie”. You could read a great book, play games on your device (I like “Flappy Wings”), go on a nature walk, or drive around at night looking at Christmas lights. Tell me what you like to do in the comments section.
I hope that your week is filled with things that make you feel alive, or “stoked”. Check out “McConkey” – I bet you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
As McConkey would remind you,
“You have one life. Live it.”
The Lighter Side of “McConkey”
I laughed so hard during scenes of McConkey’s alter-ago “Saucer Boy”. (He’s carrying a bottle of Jack Daniels in the photo.) It’s all in good fun!
I don’t want to give away the whole story about the photo above, (the incident is fully explained in the film – well, full frontal and more!) but I giggled so much that I had to watch the scene three times!
Here’s a beautiful shot of Shane, baby Ayla and Sherry
And here’s a brief video taken from the Shane McConkey Foundation website. It features an older Ayla (who is the same age as my oldest daughter) that brought tears to my eyes. The way this beautiful little girl talks about her late father is so moving, and you’ll learn about all the good works they do.