Sunday, March 27, 2016

Addicted To Spectacular

Jagged, snow-capped, mountain peaks, crystal clear alpine lakes, centuries-old trees, raging streams, dry air, boulders.  Yes, these are a few of my favorite things.  But, just visiting this dramatic mountain scenery is not good enough for me, I need to live amongst it.  And …. It has to have a spectacular element, to it.

My addiction has currently led me to June Lake, nestled amongst the eastern Sierra, in California.  I find myself here rather suddenly, though I am not surprised.  I am a crack-head for this shit.  While finding myself in southern Oregon since returning from Europe, last September, with ample odd jobs to feed myself and keep busy, I could not resist getting into the snow, since it decided to grace the Sierra with its presence this year (this was not the case the last two years).  I had been loosely inquiring into finding a spot in the Cascades for the winter, but opted for the dry, sunny California, after being away from my home climate for nearly eight months.  It does feel like home.  And…it is spectacular.  I live right on June lake, with awesome views in all directions and work on the ski hill, where the spectacular-ness rises with each foot of elevation gained on the chairlifts. 

View from chairlift that gets me to work.
I am certainly getting my fix.  The drastic rise of the eastern Sierra from the high desert, is not only visually stunning, but lends itself to endless opportunities for recreation. Within a half an hour’s drive is, at least, five hot springs, that I know about and endless desert trails and roads to explore.  I wouldn’t even be able to scratch the surface with the immediate alpine-side of things, but now, have no doubts, that this is a place I will be spending much more time in the future.  Especially in the summer.  Everything I want in a place.  Paradise….for sure.

This addiction has steadily taken a hold on me over the past ten years.  It began when I was working in the high school in Leadville, Colorado and would stare out the window at the Sawatch Range that flanks the western side of Leadville.  There, I had a realization that jobs, that once seemed intolerable to me, are totally bearable when the location and benefits overshadow the job, itself. 

Is there a downside to this?  Do I not feel right, when I am not amongst the spectacular?  A little bit.  But all contrast is necessary.  Spectacular is relative.  And it can certainly be taken for granted, if in it, full-time.  I have lived plenty of places where my co-workers do not even seem to notice, that they are in a special place.  On the other hand, my eyes and other senses have been pried open.  I see beauty in things, that I used to gloss over.  Now, the Midwest seems enchanting to me, because everywhere else I usually am, is so much drier.  I can appreciate it, for the lush, insanely green, swamp, that it is. 

Glacier.  Crested Butte.  Fallen Leaf LakeCrater Lake.  NorwaySwitzerland.  Yeah, I might have a problem.  But, its my cross to bear.  I’m not ready to seek help for this compulsion.  I’ll make the best of it and continue to feed the addiction.  It is still serving me.  And, I can not wait to see where it leads me to next.  

Friday, March 25, 2016


What started as a bookmark folder on my internet browser, has become a mantra of my lifestyle.  Over the past 10 years, dozens, of what start, as ideas for potential places to live, get a subfolder, and house links, I come across, either by chance or while specifically looking for the next spot. When one of these potentials slides into manifested reality, the subfolder of that place, moves from “NEXT!” folder to the “And Now” folder. Some subfolders sit there for years, before they become an “And Now”, while others have little time between the hatching of the idea and finding myself in that actual location.

At this point, it is hard to say, if my organizational process mirrors my thought process or vice versa.  When it gets to be that time, I get a visual of “NEXT!” in my head.  I use it in conversation, although the other person does not know, that when I say "next", I mean "NEXT!", more than just a word, but a way of life.    
Because I move so often, usually migrating along with the change of seasons, if not, more frequently, maintaining this lifestyle, and continuously trying to figure out the NEXT!, could become a full-time job.  I have certainly met people, for which this seems to be the case.  For me, it seems to defeat the purpose of this path, I have carved out. If I am always thinking about what is NEXT!, I am not fully engaged in the And Now. I strive for the balance between eagerly anticipating what is coming next and being fully present and, hopefully, thrilled, about the And Now, I currently find myself in.  This is the sweet spot. I have found a direct correlation between what I am feeling now and what comes next. If my now is good, what is coming next will be good. If I am loathing my current situation, it is difficult to not bring some of that into the NEXT!.  So, as all the wise ones claim, all the power is in the now, but the excitement of this lifestyle is getting stoked for what is NEXT!.
My current, And Now, has been a subfolder, hiding in NEXT!, for seven or eight years.  This seems to be the pattern of many of my And Nows.  They are an exciting thought, when I first learn of these locations. They become long forgotten, hiding in the vast NEXT!s, then without much effort or warning become my current reality.  Often, I find myself in a long awaited NEXT!, when I was loosely planning on something else, for that particular season.This is precisely what happened with Switzerland last summer.  Five years as a NEXT! and then one day, I found myself there, without even trying or planning.  This proves to me that events will coordinate themselves better than I can orchestrate, and it is only my job to launch the idea, then sit back and let it unfold.  I have also learned there is, not only no harm, but part of the process, to launch an idea, although it might be years, before it fully plays out.  Other people seem to be critical of this process.  They tell me, that I said I was going to do, so and so, years ago, and never did.  Their shortsightedness is sad and limiting.  It is never done.  All those NEXT!s are lined up, waiting to pop into my reality at the perfect moment.  Attempting to force a particular NEXT! into place is a waste of energy and counterproductive.
Currently, I find myself in June Lake, California, finishing out the ski season, as a lift operator at June Mountain.  So, the Eastern Sierra subfolder, that so patiently sat in NEXT!, for nearly a decade, as moved into the And Now.  When I leave here, it will return to NEXT!, for it is never done.  This is likely to be the first of many stints, in this awesome stretch of earth.  In addition, a few new NEXT! subfolders have been created while here, as I receive ideas from fellow seasonal workers, about their past and future NEXT!s and And Nows.  The cycle continues….