Jack Everly was born the moment Paul E. Fitzgibbons died in Vietnam. Throughout my life I have always been measured by my progress in comparison to my tall uncle, whose name I inherited and who made the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, these comparisons always left me coming up short, and it was soon easy for me to stop trying and to fail again.
All of us have our reasons for the lack of success that has come to define much of our lives. It took me a long time to realize something needed to change if I ever wanted to achieve anything at all.
In 1992 I met my wife who was fighting her own demons. For ten years we slogged through the muck, making the same mistakes all of us make all day every day. Then my wife discovered Pilates.
Pilates changed our lives, first in a physical sense and later in a spiritual and emotional one. Everything in Pilates revolves around your core. Without a healthy core, you cannot perform any of the exercises correctly, you won’t make any progress, and you even risk injury. On an emotional level, if you do not care for your emotional core, the essence that makes you who you are, you will never perform any of your life tasks, like relationships or work, correctly, will not make progress and risk emotional injury.
Over time we both learned to take better care of ourselves, we started offering classes, and finally decided in 2011 to open a fitness studio, one of the first in the area with the famous Pilates reformer. The years passed, I first became a trainer and then a personal trainer, started competing in Triathlons and eventually ultra marathons, but something was still missing.
Failure was still following me around like a lost puppy.
My wife started to work with people and helping them overwhelm their inner demons. She has an almost supernatural gift at seeing what is bothering people before they open their mouths-sometimes before she sees them-and has, after extremely brief exchanges, already figured out a path people need to travel to arrive at their full potential. She was of course the one who gave me my Plan.
At first she advised me to change my diet to alleviate my awful allergies that had plagued me since the sixth grade, and which had gotten worse since I had moved to Europe (I happened to be allergic to all European trees). Lo and behold-the first year I went vegetarian my allergies were about 80% better.
But this was just a superficial woe I had battled with. Over the last ten years, I have trusted her counsel and followed her plan, which gave me the strength I needed to 1), quit my well-paid job and start at the studio full-time, and 2), put the person I was, in gradual increments, behind me. I opened the door to a glorious future, no matter my age or financial status. There remained one last loose end to tie up.
Souls that die violently are not happy in their afterlife, and emotional ties to these people, usually relatives, can work against you. Everyone wants peace, especially those that have gone before us, and without this peace the soul careens through the universe like a bull in a China shop.
At the same time, running a fitness studio proved to be a Herculean labor. In order to get those bills paid, my wife settled in to a rigorous 6 1/2 day work week where she averaged 14-16 hour days. By 2018, she was at the end of her stores of fortitude, and realized she could not continue living that way if she ever wanted to be happy.
We decided to close the studio. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye to all of our customers, as most had become good friends, and watching them grow physically and as people was reward enough for our troubles, but we had more important business to attend to:
How does one achieve freedom and happiness in this life?
We decided to tour the world.
After three hectic months of selling all of our possessions, up to and including my beloved blindingly yellow Fiat I christened “Carmelo” (Donovan, anyone?), we were off. A thought coagulated in the back of my spacious mind that crystallized as soon as we hit Southeast Asia.
I would visit the spot where my uncle fell.
On a(nother) hot day near the Mekong Delta, I held a small, personal, and very intense rite which stripped any last hold the spirit of my dead uncle might still have on me and release him to the universe. Afterwards, there was no need for me ever to get frustrated anymore. There was no need to worry about whether I was good enough or not. I had no reason to fear the future or be angry about the cards I had drawn. I could shape my life the way I desired. I was free.
There is still a lot of good in this world. Nature presents us with the most daring, thrilling landscapes and the most magnificent settings for us to enact our plays on/in. Earth is a place to fulfil an ultimate life dream, but not the way we are doing it now.
We all have our battles to fight and crosses to bear. I have chosen to lay my cross aside because, to paraphrase Tom Waits, someone might “need the wood.”* Instead, I spend my time using the gifts I was born with, given to me by whichever deity you prefer, to do said deity justice in his choice of recipient. I choose to live, to love, and to laugh, and have made it my mission to show others how this should and can be done, no matter the circumstances in front of you.
*”Come on up to the House,” from Mule Vibrations.