It can be hard to sleep on some nights. It's the wind, you see. After a few years of respite, the wind is back in force this winter in the land east of the Continental Divide. The caboose creeks and moans with each gust, like a boat far out in the ocean surviving a battering storm. The wind makes me restless, and in the dark night it becomes a moment of truth. Searching, seeking for something, anything.
I surf the web and observe the path of my old friends. Racing cyclocross in Oregon, doing well, skiing. Somewhere along the line, I diverged. Two paths in the woods…right. I realize now, looking at old photos, that NOLS was a turning point for me. A simple course I took in 2005 up in Alaska, but a breeding ground for not doing things the way I was doing them, to move in a new direction. I look at old photos…I look different after this trip. A little less wide-eyed, a little more perplexed. Some may argue the direction I chose has been errant. But I disagree. This has not always been the easiest path, this following the heart thing, and I had absolutely no idea (or plan) of where it might go. But I remember, the night that course came to an end, camping out next to the old army tunnel in Whittier (it's shittier in Whittier!) Alaska, thinking to myself that I would never be the same.
Next to me, a sleeping angel. I feel an overwhelming need to be my best for her, to make this life an adventure that parallels no other. Where and how we will do that, I don't know, but it is my priority.
I feel rootless in this land now. And yet I feel closer to it than ever. People have come and (mostly) gone. They are the past. But the land, the woods, the trails, the mountains that have framed my mind the past decade and a half are as friendly as ever. Spencer Mountain, Caribou, Happy Pass, Jenny Lind, Tennessee Mountain…I visit these places and they still fill me with content. But the new places, the new valleys and ridges and peaks we visit together (my wife and I)…they fill me with joy. It feels like a sign, and not one to be taken lightly.
The road less travelled. Had I stayed the course on the other route, perhaps it would be me in Oregon racing bikes, commiserating with the old gang about past adventures. And that may have been all well and good. But somehow, someway, I think this path that I have chosen – the path of love, of the unknown, of standing on the edge of a cliff and taking a chance – will yield something much more significant.