Adventure is in my DNA

Bob Clark image

Ever since reading the stories of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, I've looked at my life as an adventure. Listening and learning from my father, as he shared his amazing history over the course of 40 years taught me that adventure was in my DNA from the beginning.

I've always been able to keep calm and level-headed in every situation. The only exception to this rule is that I don't believe a person should “not panic” if they're drowning. I would definitely panic if I thought I was drowning.

Beyond that, all of life's twists and turns—good and bad, ecstatic or heartbroken—add up to the “different color crayons in your crayon box.” That was a quote from my dad upon hearing some shocking news about my own colorful life.

I will admit that I have a superpower—my constant irrational optimism and happiness. I'm fully aware that it's unique, and that not every person has the ability to adjust their attitude at will and put things in perspective. I always knew I had this skill. I knew that I was the happiest person in every room I was in, and I often told people in high school, and even in my 20s, that they would never meet a happier person than me their whole life.

As a journeyman painter right out of high school, I traveled to Ocean Key in the Bimini Islands for a project, then to the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona and the Salt River power plant there, and to many other far away destinations. Those trips gave me an interesting perspective about adventure.

I've faced a good number of giant challenges with which to practice this attitude adjustment in my life. In my early years, my family was challenged by my father's battle with alcoholism. The year I became a teenager, I was in a horrific shooting accident requiring hospital overnights for almost 300 days and countless surgeries, and was ultimately left with vision only in my left eye. Two years after the shooting, when I came out of my final surgery, I think it is an absolute truism that my childhood was over. But even in the face of that, I remained incredibly optimistic and positive, determined to take away more from the experience than it took away from me.

Looking back on this incredible adventure, I can say it left me with life lessons that would become a competitive advantage in the future.

I'm not saying I would gladly accept every adventure over again. There are some challenging adventures I wish no one had to go through. I’ve endured the tragic experiences of losing a son and my wife, Ellen, way too early. But because unspeakable tragedies occur, I do believe there are certain indelible events that can make you stronger, even invincible in some ways.

So while I’ve had all kinds of adventures, at the end of the day everything is just that - an adventure. Welcome to my adventures and I hope we can all learn from them and be entertained by them, laugh at them and even possibly shed a tear here and there.

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