Strong Guy: Ben

Meet Ben. Ben Taucher.

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Yes, this photo was pretty much what Ben looked like the first time I met him.

War paint, feathers, bear footprints on his chest.

For Ben, this wasn’t an unusual outfit. It was just the day’s theme for another epic challenge course. This event happened to be the Warrior Dash, which included obstacles like scaling walls, jumping over burning coals and sliding through a giant mud pit. Typical.

The Warrior Dash is nothing less than extreme.
After talking with Ben about his history of events like this -Tough Mudders and Color Runs and relay races- I realized that this was Ben Taucher in his element — living life boldly.

Some of us experience that transition from childhood to adulthood where we forget what it means to play.
Not just playing with toys, but letting our imagination dream up wild ideas, to fashion costumes out of fabric scraps, to get our hands covered in a rainbow of chalk and paint and glitter.

But there are some people who never lose their playful heart.
In fact, for some of us, it seems to grow stronger.

Ben reminds me that the world is meant to be experienced in all its richness.

Our age doesn’t prohibit us from PLAYING, or creating, or dreaming. It’s a choice.

I’m thankful that Ben chooses to color outside the lines. And I’m thankful that he has chosen to be part of the first Strong Guy series, to share part of his story, reminding us that each day holds unbridled potential, and so do we.

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How does the word “movement” fit into your life? How does it relate to what you are currently doing?

In school I studied math and science, which is about as black-and-white and non-emotional a direction as there is.

But every once in a while there’s a concept that brings some feeling with it.  One of my favorites is inertia: the tendency of an object in motion to stay in motion.  It also means that a lump sitting on the couch eating potato chips will tend to stay there, glued to the TV.

Movement, to me, means staying in motion every day.  I find that if I exercise after a hard day at work, I’ll have more energy the next day than I would be if I had just come home and crashed.  What’s even cooler is that if I get used to being active, I’ll start to crave it.  And the more energy I use, the more energy I find I have!

Maybe I have a built-in solar panel or something, because summer fires me up in amazing ways….  From the beginning of August to the end of September, there are two weekends when I will be at home.  The rest will be spent running mud races, camping, spending time at the coast with friends, traveling to a wedding, and living life as fully as I can.

It catches up to me once in a while, and all I need then is sleep, but an active lifestyle makes me appreciate that kind of relaxation even more.  Then I rest up and get right back out there!

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How does “stillness” fit into your life? How does that word sit with you?

I once read some kind of motivational sunset-background zen quote about how being still and doing nothing are very different things.

When I am “still,” it means my mind is free. Usually that means I’ve just woken up and have not burdened my mind with any worries yet, or that I’ve just finished a long run and have pushed out all the monkeys swinging around in my head.

When I’m not hungry, feeling ill, anxious, worried, or tired, it’s kinda cool to see how much more clearly I can reason and process things logically.  If I can remove emotion and feel my heart beat steadily, I’m more social, I work better, and I’m a stronger person. Frequently this happens in the shower after said run, when I realize I’ve come up with three new ideas for whatever project I’m currently working on — the most I’ll have all day.

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What is one goal you have this year?

I’m at a place where I’m content with a lot.  I’m stable with an excellent job; I’m extremely blessed to have such a huge family, supportive friends, and amazing coworkers; and I’m continually learning new life lessons.

But my appreciation for those things makes me want to build on them.

I would like to find love and eventually start a family, but I realized that searching for it makes me much too focused on an end result, which has — in the past — deluded me into believing I’d found something real.

Some things just have to happen without being forced.  Others, such as passion projects, are my sole responsibility to make a reality.

So I’ll make a goal now, Taylor:  Within the next year, I want to finish the screenplay I’ve been working on for the last five years.

Writing one isn’t new to me, but as my previous scripts have all been ridiculous comedy/action for my own amusement and this one goes a lot deeper than that, it’s a constant challenge to find that more vulnerable part of me and be willing to potentially show it to others.  It’s cathartic for me to write, and going deep into this one makes me realize a lot about myself.  Finishing it would mean having a black-and-white copy of who I am.

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Currently, who/what do you draw inspiration from? When you wake up in the morning, what pops into your head and gets you saying, “Today is my day!”? 

I think inspiration for anyone ultimately comes from what he/she is passionate about.

My heart’s on fire for fitness and art, so if I wake up knowing I get to throw on some warrior paint and go run through the mud with my best friends, I launch myself out of bed faster than a teenage girl chasing after One Direction.

If I’m working on something I really like — this summer I’ve been spending way too much time on a chainsaw sculpture in my front yard — then I’ll be sad when the day’s over, and I’ll be raring to go in the morning.  Even on work days, if there’s something cool going on — for example, one of my favorite patients coming into the clinic where I work — I’m always in a better mood.

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What is one thing you know to be true? What is your statement of faith that drives you to keep doing what you’re doing? 

I had a pretty bad heartbreak a few months ago, and in the aftermath of one of those, there’s always a lot of arguing (with one’s self more than with any other person) about what was right and what was wrong.

When you’re hurt you try to reconcile the miscommunications and the disagreements that inevitably result when anyone’s emotions become involved, and what I realized was that when two people — or countries, or religions, or political parties, etc — disagree, there is no correct answer to who is right and who is wrong; there is only each side’s perception of it.

No matter what you believe, I think everyone can agree that there is no perfect system that exists to make life fair.  Most often, life doesn’t even make any sense!

Instead, the world is run by people, and as I grow up and realize that “adulthood” is a fancy word meaning “scared little kids running around with more experience than they used to have,” the more I understand that the reason our world isn’t perfect is because its control lies in imperfect hands.

We all make mistakes, and our attitudes and opinions about everything are shaped only by what we’ve been exposed to in our own lives.

Because of that, I know that no one has all the answers, and more importantly, that everyone goes through rough times.  If we’re the ones trying to build the world together, aren’t helping, understanding, and forgiving each other the best things we can do?  Because there’s no one perfect answer that everyone can agree on and all I have are my own perceptions, who am I to judge anyone?

Realizing that it’s not a black-and-white world has made me much more humble than I used to be, and it’s made me realize that the one thing that will always make the world better is being kind to one another.  That smiling at someone on the street is free, and it might just make their day.

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What is something new that brings Joy to your life?

Since it’s the last question, I’ll come back to that first idea of inertia in an effort to come full-circle….

Any object will stay on its course unless something else acts upon it, which is science-speak for “people don’t change without something challenging them.”

I find that any new challenge — like a new obstacle course (which I saw a 5-foot girl race through on YouTube) or a new form of art I’ve never tried — inspires me to prove that I can meet it.

Maybe it comes from insecurity that I want to prove something to myself so badly, but trying something new means that life doesn’t get stale, and that I’m constantly in a new kind of movement.

It’s definitely uncomfortable to change course (and man did that obstacle course kick my extremely un-ninja ass), but it grounds me and ultimately makes me appreciate other people more when I realize their strengths in my areas of weakness.

Meeting new challenges makes me happy because it changes my mind about what I’m capable of and inspires me to be a better man.  But even more rewarding than trying new experiences is meeting new people, because every once in a while I’ll meet someone who changes my perceptions about the world: an athlete who does what I had thought to be physically impossible; a woman who proves there are truly good people out there and makes me want to give love one more shot; or even just a kid who gets off the couch on a summer day to go run through a slip-n-slide and reminds me to love life for its energy, and to go move.

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