Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas comes but once a year...

And I hope you’ve spent it well in the hearts, if not the arms, of those you love. 

  Salt Lake City was under the canopy of a foggy winter haze this morning as I left for Little Cottonwood, but grey skies have limited stature. The atmosphere thinned midway up the canyon; Alta basked in the glory of brilliant white sparkling beneath bright and cloudless blue sky. I reflected today on Christmas 2005, when I’d planned to stay at my first apartment downtown, thinking I was grown up. I admitted a teary eyed defeat that night, and my roommate and I drove my Honda Civic into Boise in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Every year since, I trekked to be with family for this one day, returning as quickly as I left to Alta to teach skiing. This year, I stayed.

   A number of chapters came to a close over the course of 2010, the Civic being among those. A few hundred thousand miles of memories on the odometer, I sold it for a fistful of cash and an iPod last spring, the first in a succession of 2010 vehicle transactions. What happened to the cash, couldn’t say - but I did figure out how to use the iPod last week. Guilty as charged on all counts of electronic media ignorance - except for my continuing love affair with Microsoft Excel, which, with a few other forces in the universe, helped me put together a small but official, licensed, registered cleaning company at the start of the year. A blessing and a curse ever since, but one I am most certainly grateful for.

  I retreated to the woods and rivers of central Idaho for part of the summer, but was pulled out of the reverie by responsibilities (see above) in Salt Lake, dancing back and forth over dashed highway lines between peace and duty. The limbs of Wasatch trees got naked like they do in the fall, but my own shedding and simplifying in preparation for winter didn’t happen – things got heavier, collided, started decomposing on the branch, and I finally had to just shake free of some of it and let go of a few responsibilities and a little pride. Fear not, I have pride to spare, I survived, my business survived. My academic and career plans took some hard adjustment, more of which is sure to come.
Speculating about the possibilities for next year and the grandiose plans and dreams it may host would have been more fun than sharing the imperfect, realistic details of the past year. But if there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past twelve months, it’s that life is subject to change and based largely on externalities, that I don’t rule the world, and the power I have is dictated in the choices I make with what I’ve been given. That’s pretty much all I’ve got, in a nutshell. I’ll take it.

  I drove the midnight miles from Salt Lake to Boise on Christmas Eve of 2005 because all I had at the time was roots; wings hadn’t yet sprouted. A holiday away from the nest seemed a dismal plummet to the barren ground. In the half decade since, the wings have come, flight has been made. I’m grateful to have a home, communities, invested relationships of whole heart and soul with people and places of not merely my choosing, but divine blessing and opportunity.

   From the simple to the harrowing, the known to the unfathomable - I am grateful, immensely and endlessly, for all that this year has been and those I’ve shared it with. I look forward to the advent of 2011, a blank canvas of time awaiting the mark of colorful life, and wish you and yours all the best this season and into the New Year.

With love,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

International Advent

Over the better part of the last decade, I've proudly accepted and embodied the Gypsy life, driving hundreds of thousands of miles across western landscapes, eating from the earth, drinking deeply of its waters, living out of a car, a backpack. Countless mornings, I've woken up on some beach, patch of dirt, overturned raft - and sighed a sigh of contentment. I've chosen to be there for critical family moments, friends' milestones, embracing the familiar and beloved instead of pursuing grand scale adventure on an international canvas.

The idea of going someplace just to blitz through a tick list of tourist stops in a week holds no appeal for me. Cruises, also no appeal. I've seen port cities, they're as contrived as it gets, and the idea of confinement within an overrated floating hotel is revolting. I crave to experience time and place in authentic, tangible, true ways.

I've envisioned a future with a family, where we would make a point of living below our means so that at least biennially, we could approach the world at large with curiosity and open hearts. Take the time to select a destination, acquiring a base understanding of the place and culture, and develop skills that would translate to some specific experience there. As one piece of that family, I'm getting the ball rolling this year.

Here are the top two prospects...

 Guilin, China via San Francisco, Shenzen 
Intention: Experience and climb pillars at YangShou
Preparation: Climbing!

 Iceland via New York City
Intention: Circumnavigate the country via Ring Road, possibly on bicycle.
Prep: Culture/literature/language study.


Monday, December 13, 2010

In Other Words...

‎"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well." - Van Gogh