I’m home. Or as close to it as I can really get. What is home for anyone really – where you live? Where you are alive? Too many cliches about your heart or your hat… For the past week I’ve been with family and more than anywhere else, this feels like home. It’s not the place, the place is familiar in that visceral and sometimes oppressive way that where you grow up can be. No, home is family, it’s that bedrock of strength and support that is unwavering, that without, you become truly homeless. It’s the place you call or scamper to when you’re in trouble, it’s the people you call on when you need help, or return to when they need you.
Home is where you go to reconnect with the person you were, the one who helped make you who you are today. It’s been a little over a year since I’ve been here, that’s about my rotation, and with all the movement and change my life has seen in the past year, coming home is in so many ways just what I needed. A chance to check in with myself, my history, my present and future, to offer support and presence, to gather ideas and encouragement for the way forward. A lot has changed in the practical and emotional ways I live and experience life this last year, and taking a moment to better understand and appreciate what is happening has helped me take advantage of this momentum to keep my life moving in what I hope to be a positive direction. Is it? Well, only time will tell, but you may as well judge too. The approach is changing.
I returned home to find a stack of mail piled up in my absence, amongst which I found a large envelope that enclosed a copy of a small publication rapidly growing in popularity. The Climbing Zine is a collection of essays, poems, and pictures from the every-man level of the climbing world. It’s published by Luke Mehall out of Durango Colorado. This particular Zine was important because it held some of my own words and pictures. Luke published a story I wrote about cycling from Washington to Utah to climb in Zion National Park, and the physical and spiritual importance of traveling under your own power.
As I read the printed words for the first time the experience returned to me, along with a flood of emotions. So much has changed since that time in my life yet the experience and approach outlined in those pages is still, and will always be, so much a part of who I am and how I see the world.
But the truth is, things in my life are changing, and in a way that is easily identifiable as being at odds with the values I laid out in those pages, and here as well. In the last year I’ve circled the globe in an airplane, traveled thousands of miles in an automobile, and most recently, bought a vehicle of my own.
That’s right, although I still very much wish to live my life by a mostly human-powered means I’m no longer car-free. My approach has changed, as will, arguably, my destination, because after all the two are so inextricably linked that you cannot change one without altering the other. Just as every new footstep can take you in a different direction, any change in the style of your approach is guaranteed to have an impact on your eventual destination. So despite my hope to continue towards a life of purpose and intent, I’m honestly just not sure exactly how these changes will effect my life and my future.
But although there is uncertainty in embracing these recent changes, a few things are clear, and have played a large part in my decisions and actions this last year.
1 – I was fighting a lot: automobiles, society, and many basic parts of myself. It feels good to stop fighting who we are and where we are headed. I don’t want to live my life in an angry battle, and despite my apprehension with fossil fueled transportation I am not , and cannot be responsible for it’s abolition.
2 – I was tired. In many ways the bike had ceased to be a symbol of freedom and independence, a token of opportunity, and had instead become it’s antithesis, an object that all too often I felt held me back. This is a sad thing to acknowledge but it’s true, and I’m happy to move on and hope that my time on the bike can continue to grow and build something better.
3 – We are all fucked. And I mean this in the nicest way possible. Honestly more often than not instead of appreciation or simple acknowledgement, my attempts at living a human powered or car-free life were met with accusations of hypocrisy and futility, and, well… its true. Perhaps it was my own voice that encouraged this response, but more accurately I believe it to be a symptom of the fear we react with when faced with such drastic and fundamental change in our lifestyles. Additionally, we are doubly fucked and don’t give a fuck as it becomes more clear just how much we have fucked the environment, and how riding bikes or climbing rocks isn’t going to get us any more un-fucked. Sorry for the language but it’s true, and things just aren’t going to change until we’re all super fucked and everything falls apart. Correct me if I’m wrong but this just seems to be the case.
4 – Do what you love, follow your heart and all that sappy shit. This summer I had a chance to travel and work as an avalanche professional in New Zealand and it was one of the best experiences in my life. I’m finished with limiting myself in the name of moral or political virtue. Don’t fall prey to your own rigid ideals or dogma, be fluid and flexible, keep your eyes open, and do your best to continue to grow.
I’m sure there are some more lessons in there somewhere, and I’ll try and share them as they surface, but for now all I know is that my approach has changed, and because of that, so will where I’m headed. I hope to keep the periscope up and binoculars handy so I can keep tabs on my direction, and steer clear of any unwanted destinations but I’m certain there will be obstacles, opportunities, speed bumps, and of course more flat tires.
So here’s to the road ahead, and all the way we’ve traveled together, because you can’t ever take that back, or take it away. Thanks for being here, for reading and riding along, and I pray for success and safety in all of our travels.