I was talking to my dad the other night, trying to figure out why I’ve been feeling kinda strung out the last couple weeks. Then I suddenly realized that, well, I’ve got a lot to be strung out about. Despite what anyone might tell ya, the whole “packing it all up and moving across the country to guide trips in the wilderness at a level and degree that you’ve never been at before,” is rather stressful.
I’m no stranger to moving, and I’m no stranger to taking on new jobs in unfamiliar locales. Every time I do this, however, I forget how much sheer work and planning is involved. The paperwork along is uncanny. Part of my training includes taking a wilderness first aid course that guarantees, if I’m reading this right, to render me a physical, emotional and psychological wreck by week’s end. I’ve been signing waivers that say, basically, if my ass gets handed to me, like literally, if they have to wrap my ass up in a garbage bag and give it to me to take back home, I cannot hold them liable.
All I can say is, holy crap this is a lot of work. Holy crap I must really want to do this. And I do. I really do. Every time I do something like this, I always tell myself that it will either be the smartest or dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And you know what? Whenever I follow my heart, whenever I listen to my gut and do what it’s telling me to do, it has always turned out to be the former.
I was talking to Brian about this over lunch. Brian came back to Hood River yesterday (after being in Olympia, and after being in Hood River a few days ago to grab his car and jam down Bryce Canyon in Utah in a hunt for more sunshine) and we were chilling on the dock down by the Marina, eating real Mexican tacos from Juanita’s Marquita. As a human, after all my boundless capacities for logic and reason, it’s odd to base such huge decisions on a feeling of intuition.
It’s weird, and I should be a little bit uncomfortable and nervous about it, but the results speak for themselves. Honestly, in my two years since graduating from college, there are no significant choices that I have made that I regret. Sure, I feel like a dunce for some small things here and there. I feel like a complete idiot for not wearing a helmet while kiteboarding in Baja, and splitting my head open. I feel bad for getting Alpine banned from the Bend Distillery, after challenging Jody to wrestling matches on the snowy sidewalk outside. I wish I had tempered my enthusiasm, and hadn’t been charging so hard on the day I broke my leg snowboarding.
I feel bad for all these things and more, but I don’t regret any of it. The most bizzare thing about the last two years is how strangely everything weaves together and folds back upon itself. Everything feels so inexplicably related that it’s impossible to consider these decisions and events as distinct and independent entities. No matter how I try, everything is so tightly woven that I can’t figure out how to isolate these occurences without destroying the whole.
It’s going to sound weird, but sometimes it feels like time is just another spatial dimension. I can’t just stand up and roam around it like I can the other dimensions, but I feel like time is being manipulated all the same. The past is so tightly related to the present, is related to the future, that sometimes it feels like they share more commonalities than we think. The river metaphor works well, with currents that pull you in a particular direction, but I’m also seeing eddies where it slows down, and tributaries that you can choose to explore with a bit of effort. There’s one main river that tugs at your path, but it’s so deep and wide and full of delicious complexity that there’s still a lot of freedom in where you go.
I’m not a theist, nor am I an atheist. I don’t believe that a higher, ordered intelligence is governing the universe, but I don’t necessarily believe that there isn’t one. I consider myself a spiritual person, but I’m not sure what that means beyond the fact that it impresses religious and non-religious girls alike and keeps the conversation flowing. I do believe it is a cop-out to say that God is in everything, because you could just as well say God is in nothing and save yourself a unnecessary layer of complexity.
I’m an agnostic, plain and simple. I don’t know the answer. I don’t even know if the answer is knowable, but that doesn’t keep me from constantly searching and questioning. What I do know is that in many ways, how I look back on my life, and how I look forward into the future, sounds remarkably like fate. Now, I’ve never considered myself a fatalist, and I like to believe in the infinite capacity of free-will to remake my life and my world however I see fit.
At the same time, there are periods in my life where I have tried to do just that, and it felt like I was trying to swim upstream. My head was telling me one thing while my gut was telling me another, and when I sided with the cranium the path felt totally wrong. This happens frequently when I’m in transition from one place to another, and I’ll have a number of fits, starts and lurches in various wrong directions before settling on the right one. And again, many times the only way that I can tell which path is ‘right’ is through feeling alone.
Right now I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, and I’m really excited for this summer. I want to jump off cliffs into crisp turquoise water. I want to hear loons on a moonlit night, calling back and forth across a glassy lake. I want to lay out under the stars and massage my soar paddling arms. I want to poop in the woods.
Most of all, I want meet new people. I want to trade stories and share laughter. I want us to set out on some epic adventures and have a ripshitkickass time doing it. I want to see others, and I want to see myself, shattered and rebuilt a million times a day. I want to see, and to see through, the tears of laughter, frustration, exhaustion, sorrow and joy that come with spending a couple weeks in the wilderness with people you know, but you didn’t know you know.
I’ve spent enough time testing my mettle. It’s about time to test our mettle.