I Go To Seek The Great What Does This Button Do

So guys, I found this really cool thing on Pinterest? I'm totally never going to make it.
So guys, I found this really cool thing on Pinterest? I’m totally never going to make it.

A month and a bit into living in Colorado and I am still catching up with friends. I moved here so suddenly that there were a lot of people that I didn’t get to see, didn’t get to say goodbye to, didn’t even tell. In these conversations, phone calls that linger on and on, some form of the following statement is said: I’m so impressed that you were brave enough to do this. Even my mother says it, adding, What you’ve done is a scary thing.

Scary? If this was supposed to be scary, then why wasn’t I scared?

A while ago, I found this image while trolling Pinterest. “I Go To Seek A Great Perhaps.” I thought it was nice. The words felt good on my tongue as I whispered them out loud, full of promise.

Then I left home and came here, and now the words don’t make sense. A Perhaps is, maybe, what happens at Wanderlust Fest when you’re blissed out on yoga and kombucha. Maybe a Perhaps is the music/time passing sequence in a rom com. Something sort of tame and pleasant and predictable, which is all well and good… But, to be honest, I’m more of a What Does This Button Do kind of girl.

My good friends all come to recognize a particular mood that comes over me. I don’t know what to call it, but when I’m in it… I’m apt to dissect remote controls, climb on buildings, eat the entire pie. I turn around and talk to strangers and follow people I barely know into strange places. I don’t stand still; I want to know what is behind the curtain, even if it’s just more of the same.

Maybe it’s curiosity. Maybe it’s recklessness. Maybe I’m just compensating for all of the time I spend shy and nervous and uncomfortable standing in the corner at parties wondering if it’s socially acceptable to crawl under the table with the dog because, man, he just gets me.

But it’s a pretty good way to live.

I Go To Seek The Great What Does This Button Do

Laney writes: “Low-novelty seekers like to see the big picture before plunging ahead…” And low-novelty seeking correlates strongly with introversion. Apparently, no one told me this when my brain-chemistry was mixing in the womb. I nail every other introvert trait except for that one, as if even as a pupa I rebelled against my own nature… as if… as if I went exploring through my genome, turning things on and off according to a set of printed out directions until I came across this one tantalizing gene… proto-Liz paused there and said, “Huh. I wonder what this button does.”

27 in 27

My birthday stalked me like a catamount this year. Following my footsteps and tire marks across the Green Mountains and through the midwestern plains. I’m a little surprised it found me at all.

27!

Do you know they say the brain doesn’t fully mature until age 25? Have you felt it – your gray matter settling into one place? The connections solidifying, their assertions becoming fixed? The simple fact that you really don’t do stupid shit anywhere near as often anymore? I’ve felt it. I swear.

So. My birthday list. 27 things I’d like to do this year for no other reason than Why Not.

I mean, who doesn't want to hang out at a place named "Loveland."
I mean, who doesn’t want to hang out at a place named “Loveland.”

1. See divvi (my primary freelance obsession project) launch

2. Travel with Rob

3. Ski Loveland

4. Make a soufflé

5. Watch the next season of Dr Who (The 12th Doctor!)

6. Read Man’s Search for Meaning

7. Get my ring fixed

8. Become a Colorado resident (yes, I know. I still have to do this.)

9. Learn to play at least two songs on the ukulele

10. Play tennis with Mom

11. Have divvi break 1,000 FB likes

12. Go to a meditation class

13. Try pole fitness

14. Become a regular at Ozo

15. Make or build a physical object

16. Mountain bike

17. (private)

18. Complete one full draft of Galatea

19. Join a club

20. Finish Rosetta Stone (French)

21. Travel for work

22. (private)

23. Do yoga regularly (+ once a week)

24. (private)

25. Go rock climbing

26. Pay off 1 student loan

27. Keep waking up early.

To be honest, I’m surprised I completed as much of last year’s list as I did. I’m under the impression that these lists are less to be completed than to look back and realize how far I’ve come.

And just because I’m a ripe ol’ 27 doesn’t mean I am going to stop getting irrationally excited about museums. Particularly when they involve model camels to sit upon.

CAMELCHAIR
It’s not a party unless there’s a CAMELCHAIR

What do you want to do this year?

For the Searchers –

My cousin shared this passage at her father’s 65th birthday. The poet’s name is James Kavanaugh, and while I don’t think his written words aged well, a ring of truth remains.

I share the passage here as a hello to all the other searchers out there.

I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter.
We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.

For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.

Abel Tasman Coast Track
Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Other Thing: On Adventuring Alone

Mud boots, rock skisThis is the other thing I wanted to talk about. But first, I’ll start with a kind of a disclaimer. To quote Haruki Murakami: “I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone.” This has been true forever. I enjoy the company of others, sure, but I need a certain amount of alone time to feel rested and complete.

For years, however, I was under the impression that this need for solitude was ‘antisocial’ and therefore bad or wrong. I worked very hard to suppress this drive for solitude, which meant that several years were more difficult than they had to be. Not in the sense that I was picked on or otherwise mistreated. Simply in the sense that I was more tired more often than I needed to be. Constant social fatigue wore away at my self-confidence, spilling over from the social sphere and into my adventure sphere. Fear of going out and doing something by myself (and fear of somehow failing or running into trouble in the woods alone) meant that I didn’t get out into the wild anywhere near as much as I wanted and needed.

It’s taken several more years now of practicing doing things alone again, but I’m finding joy in the rehearsal. It started small with going to cafés to work or quietly sip tea. Then, a few bars. (I love reading in bars. I don’t do it often because interruptions annoy me, but bar-reading is great.) Or the beach. Or driving to the resort alone to link a few turns in the lift-served playground. These places are as pleasant and enjoyable by yourself as they are when in a group.

Smiling in May on Snow at StoweAnd then there was yesterday – earning my turns in calm, satisfied solitude. The peace of walking upwards and the exhilarating joy of sliding back down again.

Of course, there were other people out enjoying the day – hikers with their children or dogs, other riders in small groups. We flashed smiles to one another and commented on the weather, but for the most part I was by myself. Then, when I finally arrived home, I hopped on my bicycle to ride to the beach and lay stretched out on a towel writing the rough draft of these two blog posts. Eventually, I headed back into town to join friends for dinner, drinks, and laughter.

This perfect day was all due to the realization that yeah, I got this. I woke up Monday morning with the confidence in myself, my gear, and my ingenuity to get up and have an adventure doing what I love. If I got hurt on the mountain, I had a plan. If I locked myself out of my car, I didn’t have a plan, but I’m sure I would have figured something out.

Maybe this is just a small thing, but like icebergs, even small-seeming things can be quite large.

Gondolier Stowe

Just as earning your turns lets you experience both the Uphill and the Downhill, so too does following what you love give you the opportunity to be both Together and Alone. There’s nothing quite like stopping halfway through a powder run to trade high-fives with your friends, but there’s also nothing quite like savoring a mountain that is yours and yours alone.

This is what I wish I learned years ago: whether you’re in the middle of a crowd or standing all alone, just keep doing what you love. Everything else will fall into rhythm.

You got this.

Go have an adventure.

I bless the snows down in Africa

This film more or less sums up why I’m so enamored of the idea of riding in Morocco. (Although it was the family copy of Warren Miller’s 1993 film Escape to Ski that first planted the idea in my mind.)

“The conditions were probably not at the best… but it’s the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, just between the desert Sahara and the ocean. That’s skiing in Africa.”

Film from Female Wolf Pack, an awesome place to discover female athletes doing what they do best – kicking ass.

Slackcountry Living

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am writing a ski blog. This happened entirely by accident. See, in the summer, I can be distracted by other things – running on pavement and diving into lakes, sitting in the shade of oaks and eating cherries. In the winter, I think of one thing and one thing only. Skiing.

In recognition of this, the blog needs a new title, and I’ve settled on Slackcountry Living.

The slackcountry (or sidecountry) is the sweet spot between the well-known Ski Area Boundary and the fabled Backcountry. Ride a lift, duck a rope, and you’re suddenly getting to know a mountain on its own terms, not yours. No snowmaking, no patrollers. Just you and the fall line. And maybe the guy behind you – slackcountry runs aren’t marked on the map, but locals know they’re there. At least it’s less crowded.

(Disclaimer: you can also get incredibly lost. Don’t do that.)

Hopefully by next winter I’ll have enough money to buy AT gear and disappear into the true backcountry on daylong tours. (If I do, you’ll hear about them.) But, even if I am so elevated to skiing and riding greatness, I intend to remain a slacker at heart.

Come ride with me as I explore the slackcountry. It’ll be fun.

Riding solo at Stowe
Early season ride at Stowe, VT