I was in a work luncheon recently. (Long ago, I won an award for excellence (yes I know shocking!) at work.) Luckily for me, even though I work for an insurance company, which one would assume is stodgy and boring, I like the mucky mucks that run the place. Everyone is on a first name basis, and they are fun to sit and talk with.
I was lucky enough to share a table with Steve (famous for once referring to me as the fastest clutch in claims) and we started talking about kids. He has one son who currently holds two jobs. In the summer he guides rafts down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. In the winter, he works ski patrol.
I just sat there and thought “That lucky bastard”.
Fresh out of high school I went to college (WSU GO COUGS ). This made me who I am today, gave me the friends I have, and ultimately got me the job that introduced me to Michelle my wife. I have no complaints about any of this!
I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of memories his kid was generating for himself. Day in and day out experiencing the outdoors, seeing things others only dream of. Getting paid for doing exactly what you love to do (instead of getting paid to be ABLE to do what you love to do.) I have to admit, it made be a bit wistful.
I get the same feeling reading Joe Kurmaskie (The Metal Cowboy) books. Fresh out of high school he hopped on the back of his bike and pedaled all over the world! He saw things I will never see. Both Joe and Steve’s son had the courage to follow a dream. I, on the other hand, followed the “responsible track”. I flat did not have the skills needed for either of these other routes when I graduated high school (or college for that matter). So even if I had thought about doing so, young Tony would have had a helluva time doing it.
But then, I started thinking… I honestly don’t see myself being able to bike across country at 18 all alone. Hell, I freaked when I saw my first homeless person and a rat in downtown Seattle (back to back) when I was 22! Lord help me if I woulda ended up in Texas in spandex lost.
But then I grew up. And as I did, my spirit of adventure grew… In my 30’s I tried climbing mountains. I had a few successes, but even on the ‘failures” I saw stuff and did things very few of my friends ever did.
I learned to cut way back on drinking, and that I liked being in shape. This segued into cycling, and almost 14000 miles of experiences.
The question comes to mind, if I would have done these things as a kid, would they be as spectacular and exciting to me now? You can get used to anything, hell even bored, if you do it every day. If I had an adventure job for 40 years, would I still look forward to my next one? Or would I be swilling beer and talking about the glory days?
I will always envy river and mountain guides, National Park Rangers and world traveling cyclists. I’d love to try each of their jobs. But I am thinking I have plenty of exploration and adventure ahead of me. As long as the legs keep moving, I will keep trying. Maybe its better this way, it keeps me young!
But I have to tell ya, even though it will make my mom cringe, if Manchild or Mathmajor come to me with the opportunity to do something like this, and ask my opinion. I HOPE I will tell them to go for it! Everyone should have these adventures. I am just lucky enough to still be able to do so!
So friends and neighbors, if YOU get the chance, go for it!
If you already have, tell me about your first adventure!