“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” –
I have a confession to make. I started to write this post the day after I got home several months ago. Then I deleted it after a few days and started new. Then, I repeated that again. With each reflection, I was never quite able to convey what I was really trying to say. I’m not a writer. Sometimes my brain dumps what it wants to say, but most time I tend to leave most of what I want to say jumbled up as a world cloud in my mind. Here’s to one more attempt.
Now that I’ve been back for a while (a LONG while), “life” has started to fall back into its rut. I knew this would happen eventually, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. I did a lot of driving with the music off on the way home from that trip. Nothing but the sound of the wind and my own thoughts for 3 days. It was the both the shortest and longest drive of my life.
I took a longer route home to keep me off the interstates. In many ways I felt more isolated passing through some of the smallest towns in America than I did exploring the remote deserts of Utah. As I drove east, my mind started to wonder how I was going to cope with coming down from this 17 day outdoor high that I was on. It was the first time in my life that I wished the drive was actually longer. My mind began to wander and I was thinking about life when I noticed that the most beautiful sunset was escorting me home. The first photo (which does not do it justice at all) was taken with my point/shoot camera while doing about 50mph.
As I drove on, I noticed that the clouds would part just enough for rays of light to shine down on these small towns as I passed through them, adding a calming afterglow on the landscape. I’m not a religious man but it was almost as if something was telling me to remember this time. To savor it. To appreciate every minute of what I’d been through on this trip. It was also telling something else:
This is my life, I do what I want, with only myself to hold me back. This experience doesn’t have to end.
But it does have to pause for a little bit.
On that drive home I realized that I’ve been wasting my life working toward some self-imposed goal of being successful. Working my ass off trying to climb a corporate ladder, seizing career opportunities as they surfaced. And for what? A false sense of accomplishment. I’ve manged to delude myself in to thinking the harder I work, the happier I’ll be because I can keep climbing up and up and one day I’ll be the boss when that’s really not what I want at all. What I want is to be happy. And I’m honestly happy when I’m outdoors doing something.
And so began my mental blueprint. As I crossed through small town after small town, I began to formulate the details of what it would take to make me perpetually happy. I asked myself at what point did I stray from doing what I enjoyed to end up where I am. Can I go back to that point and take the other path now?
It all boiled down to wisdom, which comes with age.
I came to the conclusion that the younger me simply did not realize the path I took, as awesome as it was at the time, would take me further and further away from anything I was interested in. It took a trip of this caliber to break the status-quoit, to open my eyes and realize that doing what you love to do holds more value than any paycheck. And if you manage to collect a paycheck for doing what you love, then good for you – you did something right.
So 3 months later, here I am, carefully planning, scheming, slowly moving the train back to the other track. While I’m doing that, there’s nothing to stop me from revisiting what I love doing in small stints. That means more trips, more blog posts, and more enjoyment out of life.
If only I had come to this realization so long ago.