To say we’re living in unprecedented times would be an understatement. It’s less than a billionth your size, yet COVID-19 has single-handedly affected every man, woman and child on the planet, not to mention bringing the world economy to its knees.

You can thank COVID-19 for shattering every concept you ever had about the world order and globalization – to say nothing about revealing the world’s infatuation with toilet paper. But again, priorities, right?

But look beyond the quarantines and scary headlines and you’ll see something deeper. You’ll see it in other people, or more accurately, their actions, of compassion and fortitude.

How will YOU rise to meet the challenge of COVID-19 – and would it surprise you to learn it has more to do with the Ozaki 8 than you might imagine?

What is the Ozaki 8?

If you’re not familiar with it, the Ozaki 8 is series of challenges to extreme sports athletes in the film Point Break than honor the forces of nature. Created by (the fictional) Ono Ozaki, each challenge uses one or several extreme sports skills to do something incredibly glorious – and dangerous.

The Ozaki 8 ordeals are:

Emerging Force (Whitewater Kayaking at Inga Rapids)

Birth of Sky (Mountaineering/Mountain BASE Jump)

Awakening Earth (Skydiving/BASE Jump) into the Cave of Swallows)

Life of Water (Big Wave Surfing)

Life of Ice (Snowboarding)

Life of Wind (Wingsuit Flight)

Master of 6 Lives (Free Solo Climbing)

Act of Ultimate Trust (Put Your Trust in the Earth)

Life of Ice is a snowboarding challenge and tribute to winter sports in The Ozaki 8

No one has ever completed the eight ordeals, and you could train your entire life just to try one of them – and you’d likely die or be paralyzed long before you tried it.

Yet curiously, while the Ozaki 8 is not real, it is based on the feats of real extreme athletes. Jeb Corliss, who was one of the stunt doubles for the film’s iconic wing suit scene, did a similar stunt when he flew through a mountain in 2011. Someone really did skydive into the Cave of Swallows in Mexico (in 1989), and one person has BASE Jumped off Mt Everest (Valery Rozov, 2013), as was referenced in the film.

And, very famously, Alex Honnold pulled off Master of 6 Lives, the seventh ordeal, in 2017 when he climbed the face of El Capitan – all 3,000 feet of it – with nothing more than shoes, clothes, a little chalk and the biggest set of cojones this side of Jupiter.

So How is COVID-19 Like the Ozaki 8?

The Ozaki 8 is a series of eight ordeals that put man against Nature. Or, in greater detail, man against air, earth, wind, ice, ocean, mountain and river.

With COVID-19, it’s you against Nature too – every hair, every inch and every cell in your body.

Let’s break that down further…

1 – They Simplify Things

If an extreme athlete was to train for the Ozaki 8, going sequentially, that would mean he’d have to kayak down (and survive) Inga Rapids on the Congo River. Just four people in history have done that, each of whom could qualify as the world’s best kayaker, and each of whom spent decades learning to perfect their craft.

Those guys, Tyler Bradt, Rush Sturges, Benny Marr and Steve Fisher, get up in the morning and hit the water. They kayak day and night, and lived, ate and breathed nothing else for years leading up to that moment.

You can see their journey, Congo: the Grand Inga Project here, by the way.

With COVID-19, you face a similar challenge: avoid the virus, or fight it off.

That’s about as simple as it gets, and it strips away your other concerns real quick.

Alex Honnold is an extreme athlete best known for free solo climbing in Yosemite and Utah. Photo Taken by Jimmy Chin/Facebook.com

2 – They Focus You

Turn on the TV and COVID-19 is there. Turn it off and it’s on the hallway. It’s in the streets. Its in your home. It’s in the 20 minute line up to get in the grocery store. It’s in the eyes of every pedestrian who backs away from you on the sidewalk.

At times, it’s too much. But there is nothing you can do about that. Yes, it’s safe to say COVID-19 has your complete attention.

Wouldn’t you just love to have that kind of unwavering commitment to hit a goal, like Alex Honnold, as he trained for (and achieved) one of the greatest physical feats in history? Or Christopher Thomas Knight, an American survivalist who, aged 20, entered the woods and lived off the land, alone – for the next 27 years?

Yes, really. That is devotion.

3 – They Test You

COVID-19 is going to test you in ways that would have seemed nuts just three short weeks ago. You’re going to learn to be resilient. You’ll need to adapt your work, diet, exercise, connections to family and friends, and try to stay sane in the process – to say nothing about trying to avoid the virus while you do it.

And if you get COVID-19, that’s going to test you in new ways. Your body will have to fight it off, all while keeping your spirits up in the process

The Ozaki 8 would test you too – and it would likely kill you. Not that I am encouraging you to try the Ozaki 8 (please don’t, by the way). But by definition, the Ozaki 8 is eight ordeals, each of which is next to impossible.

COVID-19 is an Opportunity to Help Others and Practice Compassion. Photo Credit: Austin Kehmeier/Unsplash.com

4 – They Can Kill You

While experts debate COVID-19’s fatality rate, it’s safe to say you need to take it very seriously. At the time of this writing, it had killed over 27,000 people across the globe. Almost ten percent of all COVID-19 cases in Italy had ended in death.

We haven’t seen this kind of pandemic in a hundred years, when the planet was much less connected.

You know what else can kill you? The Ozaki 8, by drowning, hypothermia, blunt force trauma, disease, suffocation, heat stroke, human causes…you get the idea.

5 – They (Can) Make You Something Better

Want a morbid prediction? COVID-19 could unite the world. We’re already starting to see glimpses of this, with examples of decency and human kindness.

Like the 7PM cheer in Vancouver, when residents cheer and bang pots together to make noise in support of the essential workers, be they in hospitals, police cars, grocery stores, who risk their lives so our communities can survive this crazy time.

Or the Facebook groups that offer to share toilet paper, physical and emotional support to others in their hours of need.

You WILL be a savvier, wiser, and more resilient person once this is done.

And the Ozaki 8?

It’s a series of ordeals that honor the forces of nature. Just trying one of them would take your mind, body and spirit to a higher level that few people will ever achieve. And as the man says, to complete the 8 would be to do the impossible.

COVID-19 and the Ozaki 8: One Major Difference

Yet for all their similarities, there is one big difference between COVID-19 and the Ozaki 8, and it affects every person on the planet, regardless of age, gender, religion, nationality, occupation, taste in music even.

You must face COVID-19. There is no choice. You win or you lose, but everyone has to step up to the plate and take a swing.

You have no choice.

So, what’s your response? Are you in good shape to avoid or fight it off, or is it going to get sinister? Will you stand up and make the best of it, or will you relegate yourself to your couch and endless Netflix binges and pray for the moment COVID-19 goes away?

Let’s chat about that next week.