Death Begets Life

If you’re a member of the Santee Rocks Facebook group you undoubtedly know the name Adam Jacob.  Adam has reached pseudo-celebrity status by being the undisputed rock finding record holder.  At the time of this writing he has found 537 rocks in the groups’  short, three month history.  As a rock hunter myself, I can confirm that it is not uncommon for other hunters to assume he spends his entire day looking for rocks.  When one takes the time to get to know Adam, it is soon discovered that the majority of their assumptions were completely wrong.

Adam currently works as a kennel attendant in Eucalyptus Hills

Gladiator 10k champion

and rides his bike from Santee, almost ten miles to and from work every single day.  The vast majority of the rocks he finds are on his daily commute.  Ten miles a day, up and down hills in the sweltering heat of an east county summer was all the explanation that I needed for how he is able to stay so lean, but as it turns out, even my secondary assumptions about Adam could not have been further from the truth.  When he isn’t caring for the dogs at the ranch, Adam is still likely to be found outdoors.  Biking has been his lifelong passion, but he can also be found hiking, snowboarding, geocaching, or playing disc golf.  In talking to Adam, I got the impression that it was more genuine humility than absent mindedness that kept him from announcing that he also beat 1,800 competitors to win a Gladiator 10k.  All of these feats of strength and endurance are even more impressive when you learn that he accomplishes all of them despite battling his own asthmatic lungs and needing to carry three different inhalers with him at all times.

Breathtaking photo by Adam Jacob

If I were to spend this entire feature highlighting and fawning over Adams athletic prowess it is not hyperbole to suggest that you could be reading for hours without ennui.  I would, however, be doing you a tremendous disservice as you would be missing out on the more compelling aspects of his life.  Adam has made his body a work of art with over 250 tattoos, but he is also an amazing artist in his own right.  The rocks that he has painted for the Santee Rocks group have been among the most highly sought after stones posted, and he is working on a new experimental procedure that will take rock art to an exciting new level.  In addition to his rock art, Adam creates handmade jewelry with white rose gold and seashells, and, oh, by the way, he is also an amateur photographer.  I just realized that this article could be somewhat shorter if I switched my strategy and told you the things that Adam hasn’t done.

Adam’s jewelry production station

For most of his adult life, Adam has not spent too long in any one location.  He’ll live a few months to a few years in a town, working odd jobs, taking in the environment and the atmosphere, learning what he can, and then moving on to something new.  So far in his young life, Adam has lived in SoCal, NorCal, Colorado, Texas, New York, and Mexico, and plans to continue sampling the best that this hemisphere has to offer when he moves to Salem, Oregon in the future.  Adams’ peripatetic lifestyle harkens to the days of Aristotelian philosophers walking from town to town teaching their lessons.  I value my friendship with him because I will be able to vicariously experience all the places he will visit.

If you have read this far you may be wondering when Adam finds time to sleep.  It

Before and after his near death experience

would be an understatement to say that he lives his life to the fullest.  Death can sometimes have that effect on people.  I admit that statement is slightly misleading as he was not clinically brain dead, but his survival story is enthralling and inspiring.  In his younger days, unbeknownst to him, Adam developed two ulcers one of which was bleeding into his stomach.  One night of exuberant drinking caused his stomach to rupture and nearly ended his life.  For a full two minutes Adam laid on the operating table without a heartbeat and was at deaths door throughout the ordeal as doctors removed half of his stomach and repaired the damage.  Today, you would never know that he went through something like that.  I spoke with Adam for over an hour and I did not notice the slight stutter that is his only lingering reminder of the event, until he pointed it out to me.  His daily activities should serve as proof enough that dying doesn’t have to slow you down.

Is it possible for assumptions to be a good thing?  I think it must, or we would not have the innate tendency to make them.  They can only be a good thing in so far as they are accurate.  I will be the first to admit that every preconception I had about Adam Jacob was horribly wrong.  Adam told me that, “people think I’m intimidating, like I’m an asshole or something.”  I’m glad that I never went that far with my assumptions.  I would have missed out on a fascinating story, and a truly amazing individual.


2 thoughts on “Death Begets Life

  1. You are a very good writer. If you wrote a book about Adam’s life, I would definitely buy it.
    You brought up a good point about judging a person before you get to know them. I am embarrassed to say, at times, I get intimidated by people with lots of tattoos. I will work on that because of this story.


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