How You Ever Gonna Know?

I went skiing yesterday morning. I slapped skins on that ancient pair of Truckers, not yet past their glory days, snapped my old Koflachs into shiny Silvretta bindings and took off. The fresh snowfall crunched under my tips and my skis swished along on top of the unbroken trail. It was glorious, flying freely across the rolling Western Pennsylvania fields, old strip mines, and pine forests. For an hour I quietly slid across the frosted landscape, until the activity finally brought me to introspection.

I thought to myself that my life goes along much like I was that morning. Forward, forward, sliding along almost effortlessly, sometimes not even realizing how much ground you’ve covered. Like a skinned ski, life flows in one direction, and try as you might, you simply can’t slide backwards. It takes a conscious turn to reverse your direction. There are tough times too. Sometimes when the going gets steep you have to work hard to make your goal, and sometimes you do slip a little. Sometimes you are gliding along when, for no particular reason, balance deserts you and leaves you sprawled out on the ground with a facefull of powder. Regardless, it is always worth getting up and giving it another go. There was no goal, just to live and learn and explore and enjoy.

On Tuesday I accepted a job in Estes Park, Colorado. I thought I would send out a few applications over the last few weeks and see what comes; well, I ended up with a full-blown life change. I am as nervous as hell. And so excited that I can barely last a minute without thoughts of the new life coming down the line.

Maybe Apryle and I are young and stupid, but I don’t believe either of us the latter. As for young: in my 22 years, I have had more opportunity than most people have in a lifetime. I have seen more than most would see in three lifetimes. I have read books, gone to school and college, surfed the internet, fished and hunted far and wide by day, hewn bows from staves, tooled leather, knapped flint, tanned buckskins, built computer networks, programmed five languages, worked in cubeland, traveled Europe, drank strange brews, learned to speak Spanish, built websites, visited the Middle Kingdom, studied Chinese, worked for a non-profit, lived in Beijing, counted calories-per-dollar dirtbag climbing in Wyoming, spent months in a tent in Patagonia, slept on the floor for a summer in Peru, worked in retail, managed a student organization, loved and been loved, climbed hard rock and soft ice, delved into underground caves, paddled the farthest reaches of South America, and run hard r! apids in Pennsylvania.

I daresay, few people have the right to judge me and my decisions. How many times have I heard, “How long have you two been together?”, “Do you have a job, or a place to live?”, or the one I detest most: “You know, I wouldn’t do that if I were you…”

Of course you wouldn’t! Nor would you fly alone to China or South America and seek adventures! Or launch out onto a steep section of poorly protected rock and howl after the crux! Or live on next-to-nothing and be perfectly happy and content! Most people simply do not understand my choices; they don’t have to. But until I fail, keep your worries and insecurities to yourselves.

Listen not to the critics, who put their own dreams on the shelf.
If you want to be true then admit it, you’ve got to find out for yourself!
How you ever gonna know if you could have done it?
How you ever gonna know victory?
How you ever gonna know if you’re down here doing what the Good Lord put you here to do?
How you ever gonna know how it feels to hold her?
How you ever gonna know what you never knew?
How you ever gonna know, if you never dare to try?

I have this vision, of a little place with a warm fire burning in the stove. Steaming cups of hot chocolate, a warm rug under my bare feet, Waking up early to run or ski before work….and living the life that so many wish they had but never will.


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