Meeting human windows into the world of what’s possible |

Meeting human windows into the world of what’s possible

We don’t always realize we need inspiration. We can go about the business of our daily lives – our work, our play, our relationships – for months without change, and everything will seem fine. And maybe it is. But sometimes, within the bubble of our routines, we forget our potential and the daily power we possess just by being human.

What we need in these times are people like Erik Weihenmayer and David Diaz-Infante, people who have been to the top of their respective mountains and who’ve made it their duty to help others reach the top of theirs.

The two were in Summit County last weekend to help raise funds for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.

Diaz-Infante, currently a radio talk-show host, won two Super Bowls as an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos. Weihenmayer did what many thought impossible – he climbed Mount Everest without the benefit of sight.

They both dedicated big chunks of their lives to the pursuit of great achievements, and in the process, realized that greatness can be an everyday experience.

For Diaz-Infante, it boils down to “trying to leave people better off than when you met them.”

“Share a smile with someone, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “It’s nothing complicated. Try to enjoy everyone’s company, which is not always easy to do, because we’ve all got the frustrations of life every day, but if you keep that as a theme, it’s a good thing.”

These aren’t revolutionary ideas, but personifying them so fully is rare. I met Diaz-Infante twice this month and have no doubt he lives these words every day. The revolution comes if we all can do the same.

“With our minds and bodies, we can transform our lives into anything we want,” said Weihenmayer during his Everest presentation on Saturday. “And when we join together, we can transform the face of the earth.”

There’s something about athletes that makes their words of inspiration more palatable than those of an author or a professional motivator. There’s more purity of purpose, less capitalism.

On its face, Weihenmayer’s story is one of individual accomplishment and the triumph of the human will. And considering the amount of skeptics leading up to his Everest attempt, it is certainly that.

But climbing Everest is a team endeavor. That fact was best illustrated by a photograph of climbers all roped together on the crevasse-filled lower section of Everest. In that case, one person’s failure is everyone’s failure, and everyone’s success is literally tied to everyone else’s.

This is life, Weihenmayer insisted.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of individual gain and personal desire. It’s easy to think of your life vision as your own personal, private quest.

But life is a team game. No one can reach their potential without help, and everyone can help someone else reach theirs.

“When someone you help climbs their own mountain, a piece of you goes with them,” Weihenmayer said.

It’s something we all know, but it helps to hear it and see it lived. And that’s what Diaz-Infante and Weihenmayer gave to Summit County last weekend. They provided human windows into what’s possible.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at

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