Ever have those callbacks to odd cult films in your childhood? Mr. Destiny is that movie for me. Every so often I come back to the scene where Michael Caine and James Belushi discuss how decisions and outcome affect the future trajectory of life. I always find it interesting how actions and reactions pave the way for future outcomes down the line.
Milestone birthdays much like New Year’s always seem to drive this conversation in the back of my head. Having seen the tens spot on the odometer turnover four times, I’m gaining more perspective on life. There’s been a number of key decisions that have had a radical influence on how my own life has played out. What comes top of mind?
- Pushing through my Eagle Scout service project: It paved the way to my first job out of college. The interviewer always hired Eagle Scouts. That turned into an amazing carrer beginning with chasing the web working on Dreamweaver.
- My college alma mater: it was a tough choice between two different schools but I know that decision had a major impact going forward.
- Changing from chemical engineering to computer science sophomore year:. I knew at the time I loveed chemistry, I didn’t want to work around massive chemical plants in my career. Computers were the backup plan that turned out just fine.
- Buying my first motorcycle out of college: I guess as natural as a kid to gravitate towards the think your parents hate. Some 150,000 miles later I met some great people and had epic adventures along the way.
- Coming out as a gay man: probably the most radical yet natural decision I’ve made and one I’m continually working through.
- Staying in California: I had the opportunity to move to Colorado twice yet I made the decision to stay in California. My industry is here and I love the redwoods and the Sierras. Yet, the mountains seem to always call quietly in the background.
A good friend of mine always laughed saying: “Dan, life is not totally linear.” I think that’s probably the most difficult lessons for me to absorb. Your’re trained from a very early age that there is a “paved road” in life. You start in kindergarten, then grade school, junior high, high school, get a college degree, find a nice job, get married, have kids, and then educate and encourage them to do the same. It’s the natural, cyclical cadence of modern western life.
What I’m finding though is that life isn’t necessarily that linear. Life is meant to be lived, to be owned, and to be enjoyed. I know in recent days that I’ve been ignoring the call of the mountains. A number of good things have kept me in the bay area: various obligations of keeping up with home and chores, meeting new people in my new hometown, traveling for work and pleasure, etc. Due to a bout with tennis elbow, I’ve not been riding the motorcycle near as much as I used to.
Motorcycling in the mountains is one of the principal ways I let go of things I don’t need to carry. The whisper of the mountains gets softer (the opposite of what I need) in times of stress. Rather than ignore it, this month I’m embracing it. I’m taking time to explore that call it figure out what it means for me.
It sort of took me by surprise how quickly my heart lightened as departure day neared. It further reinforced how much I needed this time – for me. I wasn’t doing it for family, traveling for work, meeting friends, doing philanthropy of which all are good things. I was taking time to nourish my own soul which we all need to do from time to time.
So here I am on the last day of summer headed up into the mountains. It’s snowing. Lows are approaching 20°. And yes, this is the last day of summer. But at some level – that doesn’t matter. The couple I’m staying with up there texted me saying “are you sure you’re up for this?” I replied, “absolutely.” My truck is packed and I’m looking forward to the adventure ahead.
The drive didn’t disappoint either. Leaving early on a Friday afternoon traffic was busy enough on Interstate 80 for Google maps to divert me through the Sacramento River Delta. Having lived in San Jose for many years I never really explored this area. The delta is full of small towns, winding country roads, curving levies, and a view into the way life used to be many years ago here. It’s surprisingly good winter motorcycling. Definitely going to tag Highway 160 for a future ride.
Once in the Sierra Nevadas in earnest the rain started and the snow followed. Right at about 6000 feet, the rain turned to snow. Crossing over Echo Summit at about 7500 feet snow is beginning to accumulate. Hopefully, winter wasn’t coming for good. It was still summer as far as the calendar was concerned.
That night the low was 24°. I felt all 24 degrees of it. Walking around the neighborhood in lined jeans, a sweatshirt, and a thick jacket kept me good and warm. I could see my breath in the dark night. Stars abounded when looking above. One thing I enjoy about cold is that I sleep well. The night did not disappoint in that regard.
Leaving the bay area where it was well over 90° I was sure I was on to a new adventure. Now to listen to understand how this thread fits into the overall fabric of my life. Actually, no. Just live life to find the adventure on its own.