So here it is. It’s time to live up to the all the talked I’ve talked. As expected, life has been one fuck of a roller coaster over the last six months. More than three months into this new chapter of my life, it seems like the worst of the hurt and pain and loneliness is behind me. There’s been some highs here and there, but much of the time has been generally marked by an overhanging sadness and melancholy. Recently things have been turning the corner, I’ve been pulling the roof and getting myself out of the cave. All the things I have been focused on are actually starting to become reality. Guiding work has been coming in steady on the weekends. I’m meeting people and making friends and generally attracting people and things to my life that are in line with the type of energy I want to give out. Life has been feeling pretty damn sweet recently. All of this is compounded by the fact that for a few weeks now, I have been falling head over heels in love with someone. We are talking all-in, feeling like a young schoolboy in love type of thing. It gets better. Yesterday, I got an invite to come up and spend the summer guiding in the Tetons. For me, that's like getting called up to play ball in to the major leagues.
So here we are and this is where it all gets tough again. This girl that I’m infatuated with, she has her own plans and they generally don’t leave room for a relationship with me. In other words, she doesn’t feel the way about me that I do about her. Yeah, we’ve all been there at some point. I certainly have been, several times in my life, all to different ends. There were the times in my adolescent years when I pined for months over someone who wanted little to do with me. There’s a term for what would follow. Rejection. I’d slowly build up the courage to put my true feelings out there, only to get hit in the face with that sting of rejection. And it stung so hard. Hard enough that I learned to be very protective of my true feelings. Like most of us, I ran from away from vulnerability. I learned to play it cool. I grew thicker skin. I learned to cover up and control those feelings until I was sure they would be returned. Later in life, I met a girl I would eventually marry. There were reluctancies to start that relationship, and the single defining moment that marked the beginning of our life together was when we she dropped the veil around her own vulnerabilities. I in turn, dropped mine as well. But until that point, I was playing the cards close to my chest. And this is just the habit that I’ve carried around ever since.
Over the last few months, I’ve been learning to shed that skin. I’ve been learning how to embrace my truest desires as well as my realest vulnerabilities. Losing my best friend and chosen partner in this life has left me with a sense of having little else left to lose. The pain of leaving my marriage, well, let’s say it seems like it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. So I might as well be true to what I really feel, because how bad can that really end up? You know what? Even though it can be tough at times, by following what’s true to my own heart, I’ve found that the universe generally responds pretty favorably. When you know what you want and you’re not afraid to let the world know what it is things seem to fall into place. At a certain point, I fully committed myself to the goal of becoming a professional mountain guide. I started talking about it, not simply as a dream, but as a reality that I was working toward. I reached out. I asked for help. I let the world know that it was where I wanted to be and didn’t necessarily know how to get there. As soon as I opened myself up, and accepted the risk and vulnerability of chasing a dream, it all started to happen.
A little positive reinforcement goes a long way. Open up, ask, receive. That wasn’t so bad. So I tried it again. And again. Pretty quickly, I found myself riding the crest of a pretty high wave. It felt amazing. But what happens when that wave starts to break? The higher it is, the harder it’s going to send you crashing. Right now, it’s crashing pretty hard. For weeks, I’ve been riding that wave of a new love. That wave has grown significantly. I’ve filled page after page in my journal, pouring out my feelings of love and adoration. All along, knowing that there wasn’t much hope of it being returned, and being OK with that. I’ve been talking and talking (mainly to myself) about embracing the vulnerability. I’ve been standing my ground against that old fear of rejection. I’ve been getting ready to declare my love, my true feelings, to the world, and to not get knocked down when it doesn’t get returned. Because that is the type of love I am looking for, and so that’s the type I’m going to send out into the world. The kind that is given away freely, with no expectation of how it will be received or returned. It’d be given away simply because my heart wants to give it away. On top of that wave, it’s pretty easy to feel this way. The real test is when it crashes. Then what? Is that love still free? Right now it’s starting to curl over. I can see the shore approaching. I can’t keep pretending that I’ll charm my way into a heart that’s simply not looking to connect right now. And that realization hurts. Sometimes, no matter how clear and fearless we are, we just don’t get what we want. I knew this. I could have jumped off the wave while it was still just a ripple. But I rode that wave higher and higher, knowing it was a risky move. I told myself the risk was worth it, and that I could handle whatever it threw me at, and that I wouldn’t let it stop me from doing it again. Now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. As this wave starts to crash, I’m feeling those old instincts to run and hide and bury everything that's real underneath a leathery-thick skin. Those old fears are creeping back in. And it is going to be hard work to keep fighting them off while I float around, treading water, waiting for the next wave. I could get out of the water, where it’s safe. But I know I won’t.
Then there’s that other little piece. The one about heading up to the Tetons, to launch off on this new adventure that I’ve been talking about for so long now. It’s been easy guiding on weekends, not having to travel much, holding on to the stability of a career I’ve built over the last eight years, having a home base were I’m surrounded by friends that have been as good as family. Things have changed, but they really haven’t been that different from what I’m used to. Taking this job in the Tetons would start to change things in a big way. It’s a giant leap out of my comfort zone. This opportunity is exactly what I have been asking and waiting for. Suddenly, though, there are a thousand reasons not to do it. There's so much uncertainty. Can I find a way to balance the opportunity with my current job? If not, will there be enough work to get by? Once again, I’ve been surfing along on top of a rising swell. I’m about to run out of open water. The ride is about to change one way or another. And it is terrifying. I know that regardless of how it plays out, I need to jump after this opportunity. It’s time to cut that cord and let this wave run its course.
What I’m realizing is that when these waves crash, there’s no guarantee where you land. Sometimes we get thrown to the rocks. Eventually we get washed ashore. From there we can brush ourselves off, tend our wounds, and decide whether or not we want to jump back in. Other times we come down softly and end up right on top of the next wave. The only sure thing is that all waves eventually reach the shore. Change comes to everything and everyone. When the wave begins to break, figure out where you want to end up, brace for impact, and swim like hell to get there.