I was listening to a Steve Maxwell Podcast recently and he talked about Dean Lister, how he’d only met him for a short time but that small meeting had a huge impact on him and the way he approached jiu jitsu. This is also said about Dean Lister by John Danaher, it is amazing how one person in the world can influence so many but only through fleeting interactions. It reminded me instantly about a trip I had made to Melbourne in September 2015 to visit my very good friend Cam who ironically was the one who had said the title line of this piece. Cam was a dude, I looked up to him so much from the day we met at High School, back in 1994, he was super cool, funny as heck and just an amazing example of what humans should be. He influenced me in a way I think will not be rivaled, everybody he met became his mate and in turn, the circle of friends for all involved overlapped and enhanced. This is what life is all about.
The downside was this trip was not a chance to hangout like we had over the last 20 odd years, but a chance to say goodbye as Cam had a brain tumour and was dying. While Cam was having treatment I caught up with another mate from back home, Ash. Whenever, I had gone to Melbourne on my previous trips I took the opportunity to train at his club – Peter De Been Academy and this was no different to him. I had not intended to train this time but Ash made a good point that it would help. All of you who train can agree that whenever you feel down or you have a million thoughts racing through your mind, getting on the mats is the best medicine as you literally can think of nothing except the roll situation in front of you. I wanted this now more than anything, I wanted my mind free if even for an hour. I met Ash down at the Academy for an 6am early morning roll with him, a couple of others and a black belt there by the name of Graham Johnstone. Ash supplied me with a gi to use and a purple belt he had spare. I was sorted.
Graham was an amazing jits player, effortlessly stopping guard passes, sweeping me and also helping me out with tips along the way. We did not go through specific techniques, more working on our games as we went, ways to improve and tweak attacks. As a purple belt at the time, I was like a sponge soaking this information up . At the end of the session, I was getting ready to go and catch the tram back to my accommodation, it was an early around 7:30am and I had to meet my friends to come back to see Cam. Graham said no way, we’re going for a coffee. We had great conversations, shared laughs and after coffee, he offered to drop me back at the accommodation. I took him up on this. We ended up detouring to pick up some supplies for his business, as I helped carry stock, we laughed a lot more, had more yarns and then after dropping all his gear off, he shared his life story with me about how he had built his business up. Graham is the owner of Kapai Puku which makes great products aimed to help people improve their health and diet, something that I have always agreed with and wanted to promote to some level.
I was in awe. I hear this man speaking with such enthusiasm, excitement and life, it brought me back as well. It reminded me about how Cam would talk and how we all should be, passionate about what we are doing. This man had a huge impact on my life, it was a 1 hour lesson in jiu jitsu with a real one on one lesson feel. It was followed by an act of compassion and selflessness in the form of coffee and transport. This made me remember I was here to celebrate Cam, no other reason. I found myself full of energy that day, we had a great day hanging out with Cam, talking about past adventures, Cam entertained us with jokes, for a short time it was like the old days.
We had another couple of days in Melbourne, we said our goodbyes and I have not forgotten any part of that trip. It was one of the best things I have ever done in the worst times. I went there to show the love and respect and thanks to a man who has impacted me my whole life and I ended up meeting another person who managed to make a big impact in a short time. We need to value the relationships we have, the time we have to make new relationships and the most of our limited time on the planet. Time is the best thing we can give to any situation.
“Every person you meet is a potential friend for life” – Cameron McLeod Ward