The plan? Drive across the country to a girl I co-inhabited life with from late September to late October, tell her those three words that mean more than life itself sometimes, and try to strike a balance between her and climbing. I made it as far as waking up to a van covered in snow, somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma. That’s when I got a text from her telling me that she was seeing someone else. But this post isn’t going to be about a pity party. Shit happens and life goes on.
Well what is this about then? Ha, well let me share a little secret with you, my friend!
I’ll be thirty-three next month, yet I woke up this morning like I have woke up numerous times in the past: wondering why I’m getting out of bed when I have no real direction or purpose in life. Let me tell you the times I have woke in a similar manner. When I was eighteen, I woke up and discovered that I didn’t know what I was doing, yet apparently I was supposed to have some inkling of an idea. Everyone else at school had some idea of what they were doing; they either had college lined up with some sort of career in mind, or they were at least working towards some goal. Keep in mind my high school was on the top side of things. The average student would be an overachiever in most schools. So I picked something I thought was a huge challenge. I joined the Marines.
Four years down the road and I was at the end of my enlistment. I didn’t want to stay in the Marines, for various reasons. Cool, but once again, I woke up on the same side of that proverbial pillow. If I’m getting out of the Marines, what am I doing? I didn’t want to go back home. At the time, it seemed like going back home was admitting defeat and resetting to four years ago. I spoke with the career planner, some guy who offers suggestions as to which paths may best suit a Marine as he enters the civilian world.
“I’ve got this friend,” The career planner started as I sat in front of him. “He was a H.E. Mech when he was in. He got out and landed a job working on trains for the railroad. He makes good money and says the work isn’t too bad. You should consider that.”
I put in an application to the job as soon as I got back to my barracks room. I didn’t know what I was doing, but at least I was doing something. I wasn’t even really betting on the job to work out. I just figured it was as good of an option as any. A month later, I was driving a rental car to Roseville, CA to get an apartment and start the job.
But the job wasn’t really what I wanted to do. The job was a means of funding while I tried to figure out what I really wanted to do. In the nine years that I worked for Union Pacific, I woke up countless times with the same question: what am I doing? This time I was a bit better prepared to figure out what it was I wanted to do. Even though I had a job, I had ample free time and money to do some neat things. I played World of Warcraft until it became boring. I tried family life with a woman who had a daughter. That one lasted two years before it fell apart. I started lifting weights. You know, delete Facebook, lawyer up, hit the gym? Yeah I did two out of three of those. No need for the lawyer part.
I tried an abundance of things to figure out what it was I wanted to do. Believe it or not, I’d sometimes get in the groove with something and really enjoy it for a little while, but then I would get knocked out of it. Like with cycling, I was in eternal bliss amongst my cycling group. But after one year of riding with them, the two couples I rode with decided to go their own ways. I was that cartoon character standing on two planks, one foot on each, as they slowly drifted farther away from each other. I loved both couples, and tried to be a part of both of their cycling dreams. But it didn’t work out. Everything fell to shit within another year, and I was left riding my bike alone.
I thought I knew what I was doing when I moved into my truck, then the van. I wanted to grow a deep-rooted connection with someone that I don’t believe is possible in the modern day rat race; I wanted to chase a passion, and above all, I wanted to live in a world where people haven’t forgotten how lucky we are to have Nature constantly supporting our whimsical little endeavors that we believe to be oh-so-important. But here I sit, in a Starbucks —which, by the way Starbucks, I appreciate you like a fat kid appreciates birthdays, because I can’t tell you how many evenings you’ve provided me with a comfortable place to sit—with no clue what I’m doing.
And you know what? I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything wrong with being here. Not in Starbucks, but you know: here as in not knowing what I’m doing. I haven’t had a clue what to do this entire time I’ve been alive. I’ve been playing pretend since the beginning, and somehow, every day goes by and I manage to lay my head down on a pillow at the end of each one. Most days I think I do a decent job at bringing someone on this planet a smile or good vibe. Some days I break even, and some days I may suck at life a bit and take someone down with me. But I wake up the next morning and put a smile on my face because step number one is to be alive, and I seem to be doing really well at that.