Try Harder

Life has been on the edge of crazy lately, hence my lack of posts. I have ended my multi-month journey on the road, concluding in the greater Salt Lake City, Utah area, where I now have an actual, real life bed!

I am also actual, real life employed, and have been adapting to the confinements of a work schedule after months of reveling in the absolute freedom of unemployment. My first three weeks as an Utah resident have been spent mostly on the clock – which has hindered my availability to write, or even spend time outdoors.

While the transition has been thrilling – new places, new people, new everything – it has been easy for me to get lost in the chaos of life’s problems.

While on the road, I felt invincible and carefree.

My biggest problem was deciding where to go next or which campground to sleep at. Now that I have put the car in park, “normal” life is in go, as are all the typical troubles… Primarily recovering, financially, from unemployment. Looking at my bank account, my incoming paychecks, and the continuing influx of bills from student loans, credit cards, insurance, car stuff, and the like…

… It’s hard to have faith that I will ever be able to freely adventure again; the idea of achieving that unworried lifestyle seems unfathomable.

Sometimes I find myself tangled up in the lives I gave up to be here and I can’t even catch my breath while I attempt to diagnose situations as my own mistakes. I think about the relationships that ended on my terms this year. I pulled the plug, but should I have tried harder to be happy with him? I’ll muse on the well-paying marketing job in an amazing industry that ignited such apathy in me – should I have tried harder to be happy there? Should I have tried to be happier in Portland, to be content with staying there, should I have tried harder to mold it into “home?”

On Thursday, I decided to take on Mt. Superior, one of the more notorious mountains to summit in the area. I was buzzed off the high of tackling Mt. Timpanagos the weekend prior and wanted to squeeze another summit under my belt before the snow makes the area’s peaks inaccessible by foot. I did some light research and felt prepared for the hike – a mere 6.25 miles compared to the 16.5 needed to bag Timp.

A few miles in, the well-worn trail vanished into a rocky oblivion. I wandered around Christmas Tree Peak, eagerly seeking any sign of a direction – a cairn, a boot print, the crumbs of a fellow hiker’s mid-trip snack. Knowing my vulnerabilities as a solo (and albeit, somewhat amateur) hiker, I decided my best option was to turn around before I became a headline.

When I got back to my car, I texted a friend and asked him where the heck did I go wrong and he assured me it was difficult to lose the trail, adding that perhaps I should push more outside of my comfort zone.

Should I have tried harder to complete the hike? I asked myself.

But then I realized I wasn’t even upset that Mt. Superior didn’t work out; I had no regrets. It was satisfying enough to just be out there, enjoying the sunshine and taking in my new surroundings a little deeper. While summiting Superior would have been an awesome addition to the ol’ portfolio, I was pleased with the views I did earn and I didn’t feel my day was wasted in the slightest.

And that should be my outlook on the rest of my life’s happenings – I shouldn’t be discouraged by the people, places, and things that didn’t prosper, especially if I am happier person without them. I should not feel guilty for my choices and for letting go of things that didn’t make my life more full. I should not feel ashamed for not forcing these alternative lives to fit, and for not wanting to.

I shouldn’t let other people’s ideas of success – a career, a relationship, even an error-free summit – obscure my own.

Because I believe happiness is the greatest success, and I am the happiest I have ever been… Right here, right now.

As I drove through Little Cottonwood Canyon, with Mt. Superior in the rearview mirror, I noticed dark clouds congregating near its summit… Maybe everything does happen for a reason.

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