Questioning Madness with Angel Collinson & Tatum Monod

WHAT IS MADNESS? 

In their latest campaign, North Face athletes question madness, and what it means to them. "A life lived outdoors has taught us to question preconceived ideas. What makes something crazy? What defines happiness? Who gets to tell us what to do? When do we listen? As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we believe that exploration matters now more than ever. It allows us to break down walls and create new paths forward. Following our curiosity is the clearest road to progress. "

If you're looking for some inspiration, check out how Tatum Monod, and Angel Collinson #questionmadness:

Tatum Monod

Why life a life that’s perceived as mad? When I graduated high school I was offered a four year full ride NCAA scholarship to a university in the U.S. Of course my family was over the moon, like every other successful young adult I would go to school and in four years time I would be ready to step into the real world proudly holding a degree. The time came for me to pack my bags and that’s when it dawned on me, do I really want to do this? Society told me that success in life would come with a post secondary education, going to university was the safe and proper thing to do and given the scholarship I had received I would be a fool to deny it. Yet something was deterring me, a hankering to live my own dream, to conform to my own lifestyle, a deep desire for adventure that I could not contain. I will never forget going to my parents, tears in my eyes afraid of their disappointment breaking them the news, I wasn’t going to university. Instead I packed for a different trip I bought a pair of powder skis and I moved to the power skiing meca of the world, Revelstoke BC. I skied everyday, all day. I entered freeski contests, I got sponsored, I made enough money to pay rent, and I made life long friendships in the ski community. I may not have sat down to learn in a class room but I expanded my mind through real life experiences.
I do not work a nine to five job, there are no guarantees with what I do. I could hurt myself tomorrow, it could be from skiing off a big peak or it could be from crossing the street, either way I won’t let fear stop me from chasing my dreams. Nothing in life is certain other than death, which is inevitable so why not make the most of the time we have on this planet? Some may consider what I do dangerous, reckless or even selfish however I can’t imagine living my life any other way because I believe doing what you love will inspire others to do the same. I’m not saying we all need to work glamorous jobs, be professional athletes or business entrepreneurs, I do however think we all have a gift and it’s important to pursue that and do what makes you happy. The happiest people I’ve ever met live very simple lives. Why life a life that’s perceived as mad? To me living a live that’s mad is working a job you hate, It’s having a dream but not going after it because your afraid to fail. Defying your own perceived limitations is one of the most rewarding things in life. What could you accomplish if you didn’t let fear get in the way?
— Tatum Monod

Angel Collinson

Why live a life that is perceived as mad?
What is madness? I believe what most people perceive as madness, I call going with the flow of life as it presents itself to you. To dive in headfirst with no training wheels or known structure of what will unfold or how to get to where you’re trying to go. Of trusting in your passion and where you’ve placed your heart as your only map and compass and knowing the steps will unfold in front of you.
Passion evolves and reveals itself- it’s not always there. It changes. I realized this when I dropped out of college and gave up my full-ride academic scholarship I had worked my whole life to accomplish.
There were no limits placed on me as a child. I grew up living at a ski resort in the winter. We lived in a tiny apartment at Snowbird ski resort where my brother and I shared a 5x12 closet for our bedroom. My dad was a ski patrol and my mom taught my brother, myself and 5 other kids in a one room homeschool. In the summers we would hit the road in a rusty old blue van and do backpacking trips in mountains around the west. For most people, my childhood would be the definition of “madness”. Yet though mountains and skiing were interwoven through every fiber of my existence, I identified myself not as a skier, a mountaineer, or an outdoor enthusiast, but as a student. I have a deep love for nature and the environment and saw the best way to reciprocate my love as being a voice for it through environmental policy. I was an academic, and this is what drove me my whole life. Until a life-changing moment when I was 20.
Growing up I was encouraged to take the road less traveled- but I have always been very driven and goal oriented. I kept narrowing my opportunities to hone my focus so I could follow what I believed was a clear path to success, and my goals and dreams and the way I wanted to make a difference in the world. But the path to ‘success’ is not linear and there is no equation for happiness or fulfilling dreams and though I couldn’t see it, I was the one limiting myself and the myriad of paths and opportunities knocking on my door.
While trying to balance school and a blossoming, unforeseen career as a big mountain skier, I put school first, every time. But then I started seeing the doors I was closing. A free trip to Kilimanjaro, a tour around Argentina, etc, the trips kept coming. And I kept my head down, turning them away until the thought struck me- “what if I just don’t sign up for fall classes? What if I just give it all up and go for it?” School will always be there, but the opportunities will grow tired of knocking, and I knew this. The life I was supposed to be living, my madness, was staring me in the face and busting down my door. But it meant totally abandoning my identity. Everything I thought would bring me success.
Most people would probably think skiing is my passion. In fact, it’s not. I am driven by an uncontrollable urge to go deeper, to find out what lays inside me, to find out how to listen to my inner voice and the signs presented to me by life. Skiing has been the vehicle presented to me in which to do this, and the more I hone my awareness the signs are glaringly obvious. For me, it’s not about skiing as what I ‘do’- it’s about why I do it. I do it to push myself. To see where my limits are. To be intimate with fear and not let it rule my life- on the ski slopes or otherwise. To be outside, in nature, where I find quiet, and find my greatest connection to pure, unadulterated presence in the moment, the time and place where I am and not in my email inbox or funny text chain.
Some people say madness is risk-taking behavior- and I agree. But I think we all have a different relationship with risk and why we might take it. Many people get a rush from overcoming fear and that is their inspiration to follow madness. I personally don’t enjoy taking risks. I like living in the comfort zone. I want to feel capable and competent, and standing on top of a really challenging ski line makes me feel anything but that. And that is why I do it. I don’t think we ever grow if we stay in our comfort zones. Maybe this makes me mad.
When I chose the life of ‘madness’ I didn’t choose the skiing. I chose the path of listening to myself and listening to life. Whatever your madness is, pay attention to it. It might be in a college degree or it might be outside. Madness is pursuing something that has no endpoint. It’s a journey each one of us takes. Every human has to take risks, whether you follow societal norms or not.
Madness is about your relationship with your life as it presents to you and keeps opening you up, presenting you with obstacles. Madness is choosing the obstacle instead of the clear path in order to get a deeper understanding of yourself.
— Angel Collinson