By Jeff Lund/ For Caffeine and Kilos
When I was a kid I would compare scars with my buddies.
“Got this one when…”
It was a posturing thing, a way of showing others that you were mixing it up with life. It’s part of being a kid – well, it used to be – but at some point, the fragility of life becomes more evident and wisdom prevails.
Sometimes, I hate it.
It’s Monday morning (this was written in April) and in a few hours I’ll be teaching high school English. Students will ask me how my weekend was and I’ll be pissed because over the weekend I created a scar of the Partial Send.
As an Alaska resident, I have become aware of the ability I have to take total responsibility in the acquisition of meat. That is, I can provide for myself, rather than outsource the growing, butchering and shipping of protein. So, I live off fish I catch and meat I hunt whenever possible.
Saturday, my buddy bailed, so I took my skiff (a 15-foot boat) to an inlet just outside of cell phone range on a mission to procure black bear meat. I anchored the skiff, inflated my raft and rowed around the flats as the tide came in. It was totally quiet except for the strokes of my paddles and I was awake and aware on a level that cannot be recreated in any other context. Bears usually emerge just before sunset, especially on hot days like it was. In Alaska, 62 degrees is considered hot, and if your flesh is covered in black fur, it’s scorching.
But I didn’t stick around. I spent five hours sitting and waiting, completely enraptured with the experience. Then I cheapened it.
I could have camped. I had all of my gear. The weather was good. I could have slept in my boat if the wolf trails that criss-crossed the woods really concerned me. But I didn’t.
I had food. I had water. I had filed a trip plan with buddies saying I would be back the following afternoon. I had an emergency locator. The next day was supposed to be calmer and warmer. Perfect camping weather. I had no good reason to head back to town. But I did. I consider myself junior varsity Alaska at best because I am far from hardcore, but I’ve solo hunted and camped before.
This was a Partial Send.
It’s funny how things change. Avoiding opportunity can be mistakenly deemed smart or safe. The scars of missed opportunity.
Sure, had I been out there in weather, unprepared, with no one expecting me back the following day, yelling “YOLO” above the sound of the motor, that’s stupid. I do not advocate idiocy.
But why else do I live in Alaska? I don’t live here to prove to others I’m not scared or sound tough on social media, I do what I do because I get an incredible dopamine dump when doing real things and pursuing things that make me feel alive.
If you get to the point at which you believe you have achieved your best life, you should probably reconsider because that would mean you have reached an end. Once you achieve happiness, it’s not time for cruise control because you just figured out how much control you have over your happiness. It’s not an unconquerable thirst for something that will never be reached, it’s finding that love for the process and individual growth.
You had fun on that hike. You PR’d your squat. You ran your first 5k, half or full marathon. You competed in your first weightlifting event. Great. You’re doing it. So, what’s next because you can’t live off old memories.
Well, you can, but that’s no fun.
Opportunity is revealed when you start to see that your life can improve and that you can grow and have the faith in yourself to take advantage of beautiful moments life provides.
We live in a world that is increasingly telling us that it’s bad to want more. Just find contentment and hunker down in a shelter of victimization.
I’d rather go over the handlebars than be afraid of the bike.
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