I’ve been in Flagstaff, AZ for the last two days. And what a two day period it has been for me! I woke up yesterday with a dead car battery, started writing an audition paper to try to get work as a writer, met some kids at the coffee shop who took me climbing, went back to my neck of the woods where I fell asleep in short order, woke up to sunshine and a headache. Now back at the same coffee shop I realize how much I enjoy the lifestyle I’ve begun to cultivate for myself. Amazing how quickly and seamlessly we adapt to new things.
So Flagstaff, AZ located at 7000 feet above sea level with excellent climbing and hiking options it seems to be a less cosmopolitan Boulder. With large mountain peaks in view of the city, a university located near the center of town, a reputation for outdoor enthusiasm and excellence Flag, as the locals seems to call it is an easy place to be. it takes no effort for me to exist here. People seem to be like minded and well educated and committed to a lifestyle that ensures prosperity for themselves and those around them. While it is obvious that this could just be the niche I have fallen into here because it’s what I am used to back in Boulder, I find it more likely that people everywhere are looking for similar things while they are executed in different ways. With similar topography, climate, and population these towns have created very similar cultures and breed very similar people.
But no matter how similar lives of people seem to be, the individuals themselves are all radically different. Perhaps one of my favorite observations, especially in the adventure sport world of climbing, snowboarding and skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, and a variety of others people seem to be in a constant search for that next thing that’s never been done. The peak that has thus far gone unclimbed, I look to Jimmy Chin and his partners Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk and their 2011 expedition on Meru. The mountain range that has thus far gone untapped, see Travis Rice and So Far Gone Range in Alaska. It is the indomitable spirit of the adventure who seeks these new summits. But, simply because these men and women add their names to the registry of famous explorers does not make their lives any more meaningful. To emulate such a lifestyle for most would not just be impractical but down right impossible. And so what are we left with? To patch together our own unique set of experiences that lead to a overall unique person and life even if the experiences have been had by countless others.
The life of monotony is no less noble, however uninteresting, than a life spent in constant pursuit of new and unknown. It takes a uncommon soul with an uncommon set of experiences that lead to someone who can pursue a life that allows them to go where no one else has, look at John Wesley Powell and his exploration of the Colorado River and beyond. Who’d have known that such a limited education would lead to such boundless curiosity and thirst for knowledge? We celebrate the grandiose but often times forget to celebrate ourselves for the doing the things that we do everyday. Tyler, the barista at Late For The Train, the coffee shop where I am writing, is like most baristas I’ve meet, friendly intelligent, and committed to a certain lifestyle. But if I were to sit down with Tyler and poke and prod my way into his life I’m sure, just like I’m sure with everyone, that I’d find a story worth telling.
The life that I have been enjoying, over the last month especially, has been filled with new faces, new places, and lots of reading. It’s been filled with reflection, and a thirst for knowledge I did not know I had until I removed myself from a world in which I was forced to choke on it. We are not just a reflection of our surroundings and experience, there is something far deeper and immeasurable that makes us who we are. It has been quite fun to get to know myself in this way.
To observe my casual encounters in an unbiased way, to attempt to see the world through their eyes for the time that I spend with them proves to me that every life is worth of its own celebration. Pages on Facebook like the People of New York, highlight this. But more often than not we are so caught up in our own day to day that it is easy to forget and easy to devalue the experience of someone else.
Climbing at Priest Draw yesterday with Eli, not sure of his last name, was one of the moments that I was able to appreciate the lifetime of effort that goes into who we are at any given moment. Eli, like so many others that I know, studied molecular and cellular biology and the University of Colorado at Boulder, he loves climbing and being outdoors, and has long hair and shares Boulder impeccable sense of style, i.e. he had no fashion sense. But Eli was a very strong climber, a light hearted and fun persona to be around, a committed friend, and devout worshiper of wild places. Eli’s list of experiences that made him is to long to be quantified in any real way. However, even with the number of similarities between Eli and the countless others I’ve met who have studied the sciences, love climbing, and have no fashion sense, he was very much so his own unique person. No doubt about it. Someone who is worth of every second spent with him.
Eli helped to push me to climb harder than I ever have in my life, which was both a pleasure, and today a pain. (I’m sore as shit) But regardless of all that I had a day with a guy I meet in a coffee shop that was as good as many of the days I’ve shared with the best of my friends. We create the value we want.
Anyways that probably enough of a ranting of what is on my mind today. Cheers of now and I’ll see you soon!
One thought on “Starting in Flagstaff”
Thanks for the update James! Love you – Aunt Kim