Apply power moves, crush, repeat

I didn’t make it to my buddy’s memorial yesterday (it was out of state), and I hadn’t even seen him since last summer (he’d been battling HLH, a rare immune disease), but I’ve spent a fair portion of the last few days reflecting on what a force of nature Jonathan Greenleaf was. His approach to life was unparalleled, and it needs to be documented for posterity.

Jonathan had one mode: power moves; and he had one goal: crush it. Whether it was work, play, travel, friendship … he did everything with contagious enthusiasm and uncommon skill. Sure, he could be eulogized as “one of the nicest guys you could ever meet”, but the power moves made him unlike anyone else.

I never really asked what a “power move” was. It was just kind of understood as a general way to “crush” (equally nebulous). However, the more I think about it, the more I’d say there was a method to his madness. A method that would have ended up as a bestselling book – “Ripping and Crushing,” by Jonathan Greenleaf – if only he’d had the chance.

I’m almost certain to miss the mark, but here’s my attempt to immortalize his philosophy.

Power Moves

A b-boy’s power moves might be a spin, or a handstand, or a spin into a handstand, or whatever else it is that break dancers do that make you say “Holy Sh*t.” This is the pièce de résistance, something that takes years to master, something the other guys only dream of pulling off.

In this literal context, Jonathan’s power move was the anywhere back flip. Cliffs, rocks, water, ropes, if you were outside, he’d add back flips. The day he threw a double back flip off the Boulder Creek rope swing there was a crowd of about 200 people going bonkers over his crashes, determination, and eventual conquest of a trick that I’ve only seen three people pull off over the course of 11 years.

Epic time with Jonathan Greenleaf

But power moves was also a way of life. In this sense, they might be more akin a character’s custom attacks in Mortal Kombat (original Nintendo version). They’re the button pattern that unleashed waves of kung fu domination, almost unstoppable when properly combined.

Jonathan seemed to have power moves for everything. Going on a hike? Power move to the top of that cliff. Having a barbeque? Power move at the grocery store. Having a party? Power move with hilarious costumes. I helped him finish a bathroom for his construction company one day, and sure enough, he had power moves in the bathroom (fortunately, I can’t verify if the double entendre holds true).

Perhaps it’s just refining your formula until you’re squeezing every last drop out of life. Jonathan held himself to this sort of standard … and crushed it.

Oh captain, my captain

Back in Summer of 2007, Jonathan and I (and about a dozen others) were “rubber riding” for the imaginary “B Rubber” tube / rope swing team. We had daily practice, uniforms, contests, scorecards, kegs hidden in the creek, and protests when the evil Parks and Rec would cut down our rope. I’ve never taken a joke more seriously.

Tubing with Jonathan Greanleaf

We tubed so hard that we made the Sunday edition of the Denver Post. That was probably the rowdiest the Boulder Creek has ever been, or ever will be.

The whole summer was one big power move, with hundreds (if not thousands) of people feeding off the enthusiasm of our team captain. Whether rehanging the rope, developing new contest ideas, dialing in a new trick, rallying the team, or just cracking jokes, “Jonny Cap-i-tan” always took it to the next level.

As seems to happen, work and life and death have conspired to ensure that there will never again be a summer like that. But there is one last power move that we always talked about never got around to … zip line to creek drop. So here’s my promise to you, oh captain, my captain: next summer we’ll be at the creek, zip lining in your honor.

Power moves be with you. May you always crush it.

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