Saturday, June 5, 2010

It doesn't have to be a big adventure: Thoughts inspired by 180 Degrees South

Scotty Kennett heading to the ridge of K12 in 80 mph wind gusts a few weeks ago.

Watching the movie 180 Degrees South has got me thinking about a lot of things, and I am grateful for the clear and simple message in the title, which Doug Thompkins spoke eloquently about at the end of the film, "If you are running towards a cliff, and if you are going to take one more step forward, and that step will send you off the cliff, does it not make sense to turn 180 Degrees and take one step forward?"

I love the idea of respecting what has come before and returning to a simpler way of life, living closer to the land as being a step forward. I know its true, I feel it in my own life, the more stuff I get rid of, the less money I have, the fewer toys my kids have, the more we live outside together the more full and rich my life and heart feel. The day we killed our TV was so liberating. And the kids are proud of it. "We don't have a TV," they announce to their horrified friends.

But while this central message is resonating with me, its the smaller things that make the idea grow that are sticking with me.

I love that Jeff, the main character in this true story, took six months off of his life to go follow in the footsteps of his hero, Yvon Chouinard. He talks in the movie about it being a once in a lifetime chance.

I think about moments like that, once in a lifetime chances that we all have. Every day. I the choice to go out for a walk even though its raining. The choice to take the canoe out on the lake even though you have to be at work in two hours, the choice to take a chance and let the story write itself.

Chouinard said last night that Adventure usually begins when everything goes wrong, and to some extent, I think he's right. But I also think Adventrure begins when you are willing not to know the outcome, the story, or the point of what you are doing.

We all have levels of adventure that are fitting to where we are in life. Our age, our fitness level, our financial situation, our family situation, we let all of these things dictate whether we could "Be that person". But I think that's a cop out.

Billie the Bronco... I lived in this truck for six months on a climbing trip through the western US, drove it from Bozeman to Aspen for two years, and put all but 5000 of the 247,000 miles it had on it before it finally retired this April. It was home, ski rack, kitchen and freedom for me.

I think its about being willing to do something that is in the realm of risk that opens the door to adventure. For my mom last week, hiking six miles to Crater Lake was a big adventure. For me, getting in the car by myself and driving to Jackson Hole and sitting down to talk to Bill Briggs was an adventure. The level of risk that I felt getting out of the car and going into the restaurant was huge.

Three years ago, putting on a camel back and hiking up the 1.5 mile loop on Kirk Hill in Bozeman was an adventure, I was going by myself, I was taking risk, I was pushing the limits of what I knew I was capable. Two weeks ago, skiing from Ophir to Telluirde off a very steep summit was an adventure. My fitness and skill had changed.

I guess what I am saying is that taking the impetus from Jeff's willingness to leave his life and immerse himself in risk of the unknown, his willingness to find his hero in Chouinard and approach him and say, "Hey I want to do this." is something that we can all do in our lives every day.

For Bodhi, adventure is skiing down our driveway or hiking to the culvert, floating his shoes down the drainage ditch.

I think the secret is to open the door to adventure in tiny ways at every opportunity. And when you can't find adventure that challenges you, look around for someone who needs some of their own adventure and join theirs.

Seeing challenge through the eyes of my 8 year old is a huge gift. Walking up the road on the ranch where we live and up to the big culvert to eat our peanut butter sandwiches inside of it is an adventure. To his little legs, and even more so to the legs of his 6 year old brother, it feels like an epic adventure. They have no idea that we are 20 minutes from home. They have no idea that its not really a mountain we've just climbed, but just a little shoulder on a hill down the valley from Pyramid Peak. To them, its risk, challenge, and the reward of peanut butter and banana when they reach their objective.

I'm grateful for this task I've set myself of listening to the stories of folks who have come before me in skiing, its laid a loose path for me to wander down, and opened opportunity for me to be brave enough to make new friends, sleep on strange couches, eat a lot more granola than I ever wanted to, and see my life through a series of mini adventures. I may never get to Patagonia, although I hope there is a big trip in my future someday, but if there isn't, all the moments linked together, from the culvert on the ranch, to walking around Jackson with Bill, to summiting K12, to slack-lining with my kids and my friends Kurt and Dennis in the park make it rich.

On the road again. I'm not the subject of a movie, or changing the world, but I'm excited to see where I'm going.

I often wish, as I am driving along, that I had someone to share it with, that there would be some adventuresome soul out there who doesn't care about long term income, but just wants to live and love and feel, who works hard and feels the same way that I do about being outside and meeting other people in the world. But then I am reminded that where I am right now in my journey is where I am meant to be.

This is a time where I get to spend some time by myself, taking the risk of getting in the car solo and seeing how the story ends. Pretty soon, my boys will be old enough to get in the car with me and the story will change again.


judyanne said...

Kate, I love this post, it is inspirational, I want to get that DVD, hang with you and watch it while we eat popcorn with nutritional yeast on it. Then chat about our lives how different they are, and alike they are. The adventure never ends, some planned some not, all unique to ourselves, and our perspectives. I want to thank you for sharing yours..that is a risk too. xxoo Jude

Unknown said...

Thank you SO MUCH, Judy! We'll have to do it. It looks like I may be coming to the East Coast to hold a clinic next winter... maybe a little tour is in order! If you have a couch I can sleep on, I'll bring the popcorn and the DVD. Whaddya think?

Unknown said...

"I'm not the subject of a movie, or changing the world, but I'm excited to see where I'm going."

You are changing the world. One little part at a time. Not just your own world but the worlds of those you inspire to be great.

I read about your journey and the things you write about and hope that maybe someday I will understand more completely what is in your heart because it will be in mine as well. My adventure is only just starting, I am getting my feet under me for the first time in my life so I can quit the job I've gotten myself into. I don't think I would be able to do what I'm preparing to do without your inspirational story.

Thanks for doing what you do and don't ever stop being fantastic.

Unknown said...

Andrew, thank you so very much for these amazing words. I was really stunned to read your comment, it went right to my heart, and I'm so grateful.

I'm proud of you for making a change, I know how risky that is, how scary it feels, and how good it feels when you come out the other side.

I'm rooting for you, and if you ever feel like sharing your story here, please let me know.

Good luck, hang in there, and let me know how it goes.

Thanks for reading, and for being brave yourself!