Life as we all know is filled with unexpected yet sometimes welcome and sometimes horrible surprises. Sometimes these surprises really aren’t surprises but rather small detours off of our original paths. I think perhaps some of the best advice I’ve ever been given was given in a rather informal way by a dear friend John Ryan.
About a week ago I decided to join my friend Lauren and her father up in Glenwood Springs in order to hike to Hanging Lake.
This 156mi detour seemed to sum up and answer exactly the kind of questions I’ve been dealing with for the last two months. I left on this trip for no clear reason besides to change things up and learn a little bit about myself. And in doing so I have become occupied by several other aspects of solitary travel and adventure. Learning to prioritize the things that are important or necessary over the things that I simply want. When John Ryan texted me after we skied together at Keystone on Monday the 27th, it sounded a little like this,
“It was good seeing you. Don’t lose yourself in the struggle to find yourself
Enjoy it all
Or maybe that’s exactly what you need to do, to lose yourself to find yourself… I don’t know?”
This advice why slightly cliched through the years of adventure seekers, soul searchers, and religious zealots is about as true as anything I have ever heard. I am already relatively aware of what it takes for me to be happy, and I know the things that I love. To run away or deny myself these things in the search for who I am is basically saying that I wasn’t happy with who I was at my core and I wanted to reinvent myself. Well I actually don’t want to reinvent myself. I’m perfectly happy with who I am. Which is someone who loves people, interaction, social dynamics, and challenge. Perseverance, humor, time in the sun, academic pursuit, and emotional connection are other things that I also value very highly in myself . Among other personal qualities, these are the ones that I find define me most.
I am not out here to find myself. I know who I am. But I am out here to see what I am capable of. These traits that help to define who I am, like everything, seem to exist in some sort of scaled way, were we all are made up of certain percentages of these traits. I want to know just how I work with these qualities under all sorts of circumstances.
So this past week when I joined Lauren for a hike to Hanging Lake, and then moved on to see my friends John, Jen, and Chris in Silverthorn, and then finally meeting up with Greg Colquitt in Keystone it is because I am acutely aware of who I am. I love people, I love my people. Even though Greg and were not particularly close before I called him I was still welcomed into his place with open arms. That defines my kind of people. Folks who have no better reason to trust someone than because they have given them no reason not to trust them. (Paraphrased from “LIFE” by Keith Richards.)
I’m not trying to find myself. I’m pretty damn comfortable with who I am. If I lose myself it’s to test myself. To see how far those qualities that I use to define myself run. And if I do discover more to who I am that is excellent and welcome side effect of adventure.
But sometimes an adventure doesn’t have to have a focus, it doesn’t have to be about finding, discovering, or even pushing anything. It can be pure and utter fun.
As you know, I’m James Hansen and I’m having a blast!
Also did you know that Colquitt is an Irish name? I had no idea.