Mark Messier Preview TK



In the summer of 1981, I decided I needed a break. After ten months of fully engaged mental and physical grinding, and a grueling battle against the Islanders in the playoffs, I wanted to get away from it all for a little while.

Our family vacation to Oregon as a kid taught me and [my brother] Paul to understand the importance of resetting after hard effort and finding a balance in life. These trips had also instilled in us a sense of wonder: we saw that the world was big and worth exploring.

With the memory of a trip to Hawaii the year before fresh in my mind, Paul, Paul’s college roommate, Vince Magnan, a junior hockey friend of mine named Darrell Morrow, and I left for the premiere. of what would become a tradition of post-season travel. We all had a sense of adventure, and some years we would literally go around the world. Everywhere our finger landed, we went.

My finger landed on the Caribbean island nation of Barbados. The fact that it was summer – Barbados’ low tourist season – made it a particularly lucky turn.

The four of us arrived on the island with nothing more on the agenda than to explore and enjoy. We stayed at a place called Boomer’s Guest House, which is no longer there. Modest would be overkill. It was four beds in a room without air conditioning. But it was a great place, a short distance from the beach towards town. And Boomer, the owner, was a tall, welcoming and sociable guy.

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No one wins alone

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We rented bikes and went to the beach. In the evening we had beer with the other guests in a common bar and dining room at the guesthouse. Lots of other people from all over were staying there too, and we all made new friends.

One day one of Boomer’s other guests said, “Come with us, let’s go make some tea.” I asked what he meant: “Why do you have to make tea?” Can’t buy it? “

He told me this tea was special. It was Magic tea, he said. They were going to go to a farmer’s field to pick mushrooms to do it. I had never heard of making tea from it before, but I understood what the words Magic and mushrooms meant in this context. I knew people ate it and had mind-changing experiences.

Why not, Paul, Darrell, Vince and I decided. I was eager for new experiences, drawn to the excitement of other guests, and set off on adventure.

We went to a field – Boomer too: he had everything organized, it turned out – and we started picking mushrooms that were growing in cow dung. I took off my shirt and tied it at one end to hold what I was harvesting. It wasn’t long before he was completely filled with those skinny little brown mushrooms.

We came back to the guesthouse and tossed the mushrooms in a tub with a few quarts of boiling water and started mashing them while they cooked until it turned a super black liquid. When it was ready, we took the brew and strained it, so we only had the liquid left. We poured it into tea cups, about halfway up, and drank.

Paul, Vince, Darrell and I were sitting with everyone at the guesthouse bar, waiting to see what would happen. The bar was on the honor system – you were free to eat and drink whatever you wanted as long as you wrote it down. Almost immediately, I started to feel like a coward. We were all laughing and having a good time. And then, suddenly, the cover came off.

Mark the cover of the messy book because no one wins alone

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Seemingly all of a sudden, my sensations became amplified and intense. The music was piercing. The light was bright. My head was spinning. It all got too much and we went back to our tiny room and tried to sleep, but there was a problem. The geckos.

We had grown used to these little lizard creatures, which were abundant on the island and were frequent guests in our room. The thing is, I didn’t see them as lizards anymore. I saw dragons, with horns and fangs.

It was like jurassic park projected on the walls. They were coming towards me from everywhere, tongue sticking out. I tapped them on, but it made no difference. I was terrified, and yet it was also great.

At this point, I knew I had ingested way too much tea – a few sips would have been enough – and I desperately wanted to sober up. I took a shower and tried to get rid of it. When that didn’t work the guys and I got out and paced around.

It was not a pleasant walk. Like facing a storm at sea, there was nothing else to do but face and take it.

Eventually the fear and discomfort began to decrease. I started to feel better. Quite quickly, I felt not only happy, but delighted. What followed was a one-of-a-kind experience. For the rest of the night and into the next morning, Paul, Vince, Darrell and I were bonded together and riding the wave the mushrooms took our minds and emotions away. We laughed a lot. We cried too – it was a wide range of feelings. I remember at one point we were playing Frisbee in a large open field and as the disc came towards me I really thought it was an alien flying saucer.

When the mushrooms cleared up and after getting a bit of sleep we had a chance to decompress and look back. There was a deep feeling of What just happened?– and comic physical proof was part of it. At the bar where we wrote down our food and drink orders, we reviewed how our handwriting changed over the course of the experience, from clearly legible at the start to barely legible at the end. But the journey we took went much further than that and left me with the question: How is what happened still possible?

The only answer I could find was that our minds are capable of much more than we understand. And this awareness changed me.

It is now well recognized, and more and more each day, that psilocybin mushrooms have medical benefits, although the exact mechanisms are yet to be discovered. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and other leading medical institutions have found it to be an effective treatment for psychiatric distress, depression, anxiety, nicotine addiction and disorders related to drug addiction. Cities in the United States such as Denver and Oakland and Washington, DC, have started to take action to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. That being said, I’m no expert, and it’s a good idea to speak to a medical professional if you want to learn more.

But what taking them did for me, at the age of nineteen, was profound. I was electrified by the appreciation of the expanse of mind, that there is so much we don’t know. And that of course it wasn’t just my mind, but everyone’s the spirit which was also vast.

The result has been a deep and lasting appreciation of the diversity of human beings. People can’t only act in different ways, it hit me, but they can think in different ways than I ever imagined. From there, I realized that intolerance is often due to a person unable to recognize and respect that fact. Just because I didn’t know someone else’s point of view doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I would never believe anyone was fundamentally wrong again because their mind was working in a way I didn’t know. I saw that they could just explore different parts of this same immense landscape of possibilities.

The mind is a powerful thing, and it can help or hurt you. Talent can take you a long way, but at the end of the day what separates you is your mental toughness. I started to wonder how I could train my mind to make my body do something amazing. Back then, in the NHL, 99% of training was physical. During my career, I became more and more interested in sports psychology and breathing techniques. I wanted to marry the physical with the mental, not only to improve my game, but also my life. I have learned that the mind is a muscle and must be trained, like all other muscles, in the pursuit of excellence.

From that point on, I was ready to be more open to the origins of others. It was the start of the development of an important part of who I would eventually become: a more inquisitive person. It has helped me become a better athlete and a better leader. I was blinded by the experience, but grateful, and still am to this day.

Extract from NO ONE WINS ALONE by Mark Messier. Copyright © 2021 by Mark Messier. Reprinted with permission from Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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