It is now mid-way through December, and the new year is approaching faster than ever. In strangely New Year fashion, I’m finding myself reflecting on the last year and contemplating the future. The last year has been among the most challenging and most rewarding years of my life. It has been a year of saying goodbye to past life and beginning a whole new life. A lot of awesome adventure was had throughout the year, some of which I have posted about on this blog, and others that I have excluded for one reason or another. Though it may seem, looking at my posting here, that I haven’t quite been fulfilling the adventures the last few months now, I have instead shifted focus onto planning and preparing for what is all too likely to be the greatest adventure of my life coming upon me.
Before delving into the new, I feel it is due to spend some time looking at the last year in reflection first.
At the beginning of this year, I had reached just over one year of sobriety, and had just barely added some strange level of being mostly abstinent from alcohol to my terms for sobriety. In January, I found myself hating this sobriety thing. It was leaps and bounds above the alternative, but that didn’t really seem to bring any comfort to how much I was hating it. Throughout the year, after that, I would find myself going back and forth until my perspective on life changed so drastically that sobriety just became this silly thing that I do on the side. When my two year “re-birthday” came around, it really didn’t seem like much of anything. I was considerably more content to celebrate another friend’s one year of sobriety and find myself enthralled in a late night adventure in the mountains with other friends, not realizing that the date had come and gone without a significant mention.
School… Career? Wha?
Coming off of the heels of discussing sobriety, this year has posed even more interesting questions about my career choices. In January, I began a new semester of community college, continuing my education towards becoming a substance abuse counselor. However, over the course of the semester, despite maintaining my high passion for those struggling with addiction, I began to realize that I was losing interest in making a career out of that passion. I remained silent for many months about this, trying to contemplate and process the change that was going on in my head. At this point, moving away from that field feels ever more like the right choice. At the very least, for this point in time.
On the opposing side, in my current career, this year began with news of the small company I was working for being bought out by a large corporation whose product was the entire point of the smaller company. Besides gaining some awesome new benefits and all kinds of new advantages from working in an actual software company for a change, this year has been all about the slow transition to the new company. As a software developer (officially Programmer, I guess), it’s been a pretty easy move on my part, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. With the new advantages of the new company and growing a new appreciation for the job that I had sorely been lacking earlier in the year, I have come to really enjoy the job again. I realize now that this job offers me the opportunity to follow my dreams, all while getting a good paycheck and enjoying the work I do as well.
I have come to truly dislike defining myself by career. I guess that isn’t really something new, but it is newly central to my new outlook on my career at this point in my life. I am an adventurer first. Programming pays the bills and allows me to adventure while being a fun, creative, and cognitively stimulating outlet as well.
And now for the really exciting topic!
I began the year on a soft note of adventure. I had stopped working out, and I hadn’t been out hiking. The summer before, I had gone on one of the greatest adventures yet, and I was still reeling from it, but I was in a lull. Then, in February, I decided to start picking up the weights and working out again…
Rhabdomyolysis and Wisdom Teeth
One week. One week of trying to start working out again is all that it took. BAM! Uncle Rhabdo came and paid me a visit. It is an unfortunate tale of trying to start working out again after too long away from the weights and immediately starting off too strong. I overdid it, and my muscles were not happy. Thankfully, with my background working in the emergency room, I recognized the symptoms for sure as soon as I saw the dark urine to confirm my worst suspicions. I drove myself to the ER that I once worked at and was evaluated by an awesome physician who I once worked with. I was given two bags of IV fluid as I rested. The discharge paperwork referenced a normal CPK (basically: measurement of muscle breakdown) ranging at 22 to 269. Mine measured 76314. A lot of rhabdo. I spent the next over a month on my couch, barely wanting to move, let alone actually get up.
Not to be outdone, my two remaining wisdom teeth had to join the pain parade and become infected. Still feeling the pain from the rhabdo, I drove myself to the dentist and got the new pain taken care of. Through all of March, things were looking grim.
New Apartment, New Adventures
In April, I moved into a new apartment. 2 bedroom, 2 bath. At first, I enjoyed having a separate office space to work out of, although I have honestly found myself feeling that the apartment is just too big with too much stuff in more recent times. That said, I fell in love with the creek running right through the complex–right in front of my door–and the nearby nature trail and park. For still being in a far too loud and civilized space, the nature-esque feel of the complex has probably been the one thing still keeping me sane living here!
At the end of April, I finally got a new adventure again, then! I flew to Atlanta, Georgia for work for a week. Unfortunately, I spent almost the entire time holed up in a hotel with coworkers. Nonetheless, it remained nice to get a spice of adventure back in my blood again.
After some further time without any heavy adventures and still recovering from the rhabdo to some degree, on June 17, I made a sudden, totally insane decision! The summer before, while on a very large road trip, I absolutely fell in love with the Grand Canyon and vowed that I someday wanted to hike the Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River. I decided it was time! I booked a campsite for a 4 day weekend and began training. I hiked all over what I have since come to consider rather easy hikes around my area of San Diego, and set out on my way. I hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to River in One Day! (View one of my very first blog posts concerning that hike!)
Awakening to the New Life
While hiking the Grand Canyon, I experienced a feeling I didn’t know how to explain. It seemed like I had begun to tap into something of extremely high value, but I just couldn’t formulate what it was yet. When I returned home, I found myself so baffled by this experience that I became deeply depressed for a few weeks until I finally forced myself to go out and start hiking interesting trails again.
At the end of August, I then made an even more sudden choice to do an 8 day hike about 140 miles North from the US/Mexico border along the Pacific Crest Trail. I needed to take a week off of work, and that seemed like a valid thing to do based on resources I had gathered for hiking already. I just got up and did it.
It was during this PCT Section hike that I re-encountered the strange feeling I had in the Grand Canyon. Out on the trail alone, completely dependent on my own decision making and pre-planning. Facing terrifying moments that I didn’t know if I was going to make it out of. Days of countless miles piling up. It was day 4 when I found myself falling on the ground, crying. I had just stopped by Foster Point, where I spent some time meditating. I was hiking toward Garnet Peak when I fell to the ground, tears going down my cheeks. I couldn’t recall the last time that I had such a feeling of Home. That was the point that all my questioning what I was doing stopped, and I carried myself through what would be the most difficult days of the hike with the highest levels of joy I experienced the entire time.
Following the PCT Section and the amazing experiences I had on the trail there, I began doing ever more hiking. I found myself often doing more extreme hikes just to get to ever more unique and ever more wild locations around me. I fell in love.
Eventually, I stopped around October. There wasn’t a particular reason, except that I began to shift my primary focus towards a new adventure, for which I have now set the gears in motion.
A New Car
Katriel, the 2005 Sebring Convertible that I had been driving for years, had been a faithful companion. Unfortunately, she was falling apart more than ever. I had actually finished paying off the loan earlier this year, and thus I was free to choose where to go. With much research and decision making, I finally decided to trade her in for a new car.
In November, I met Tivona (tea-voe-NAH). A 2015 Subaru Outback, she was everything I was looking for. I picked her up, signed the papers, and made a commitment for my future. She is the first car that I’m buying with my name alone on the loan, and this is the first time I’ve ever owned a brand new car. She is a beauty! Here are some pictures I snapped of her on a dirt road:
2014 In Review
Recounting just the parts of 2014 I have written about here, I’ve been blessed by an amazing year. It has been a year of a lot of changes, a lot of adventure, and a lot of personal growth. And I still feel that I only hit on just a couple of the major, life altering elements of this year. Alas, it was just the beginning. A stepping stone to the future that is just now beginning with small commitments and planning ahead. I’m an entirely different person than I was at the beginning of the year. The experiences this year has given me are more than I could ever ask for, and they have completely shifted my perspective on life. At the end of 2013, I felt I had reached new heights in life. At the end of 2014, even those heights seem awfully low from all of the way up here!
That Scary Future Thing!
So, what do I have in store for 2015, after a year like that?!
It starts with Tivona. Somewhere along the lines in 2014, an old dream of living out of a vehicle and traveling the countryside awoke in me once again. I began talking about it about the time that I returned home from the Grand Canyon. I knew I was no longer satisfied keeping that dream tied down, out of reach. Even then, people were telling me to stop thinking about it. But then I did the PCT Section hike, and I became convinced. This is something that I need to do.
Early on, I looked at so many different options. Small RVs (camper vans), pickup trucks. The idea of a Subaru Outback actually first occurred to me while trolling Craigslist for the former two primarily. Then, suddenly, I began meeting people and talking to people who had met other people. People were living out of their Subaru Outbacks! Even long term! I looked into it more, and I realized that the Outback was everything I wanted: enough space to manage a minimalist approach to life while supporting everything I need to continue working and maintaining my lifestyle financially; the ability to somewhat comfortably go over lightly rough dirt roads to find some of the best boondocking campsites; necessary elements to creatively fulfill all of the “off grid” requirements I was considering; and more. Once I went to the dealership and test drove Tivona, I knew I had found my future!
Although just the first step of buying the car is complete, I’m now spending a large amount of time researching and planning.
Some more private matters aside, my current lease at my current apartment ends at the end of April, 2015. I fully intend to be entirely out of this apartment and living with Tivona full time by the end of that month. With a few exceptions of items that I will intentionally store in a small storage unit, I plan to sell and/or give away everything that I own by that time. Additionally, I will be wanting to spend more and more time with Tivona during those months, making a more smooth transition to the new lifestyle of my dreams.
During the months of preparation, I will be purchasing everything necessary to build the requirements for my lifestyle in Tivona. I am also highly likely to be doing things like setting up permanent residence, getting my passport, etc. to fulfill travel and legal requirements for the new lifestyle.
Once I am full time with Tivona, I do anticipate some early times spent remaining in San Diego. While I will have much more to begin writing about on this blog, there will likely be a week or so of delay as I make home for limited time before packing up and continuing on the journey. As spring and summer will be headed in, I am likely to head North or into the Mountains for the summer. Eventually, I would love to spend time in all of the 48 continuous US states, and would thoroughly enjoy making my way to Alaska and maybe even take a flight to Hawaii to complete all 50! Who knows? I don’t. And that’s the point!
Fears and Hopes and Expectations
I feel the need to cover some things about this crazy new lifestyle that I’m committing to, as I head into it head first.
It is terrifying. Even with all of my research and absolute conviction that this is exactly what I want to do with my life. It is terrifying. I’m giving a lot up. I’m opening myself up to scary experiences. Part of the point is to not always know what is going to happen. Murphy’s law tells me that things are going to happen that are utterly terrible. There’s a million “What if x happens?!” Which means “x” will happen! It is terrifying. I am scared. Some times, lately, I keep myself up at night thinking about how terrifying this is. I’m researching ridiculous details that most people would never think about (my research says most people *don’t* think about these things, and end up regretting it). Part of me is the most scared I’ve ever been.
As scared as I am, I’m moving forward. I’m committing to it and spending the majority of my free time thinking about and digging into this deeper and deeper and deeper. That’s how I know this is right. The peace I have about it in face of all of the great fear… that’s how I know this is what I want to do.
I hope everything goes awesome. I hope I enjoy every second of the new lifestyle. I hope that I live a life without any regrets, and as eccentric as this new way of life I’m choosing may be, I hope I find myself in absolute bliss living it. I hope there’s very few difficulties and everything will just keep getting easier from this moment on.
I expect everything will suck. I expect to question what the hell I’m doing. I expect to have days where I will wish I still lived in a house, or even just a shitty apartment. I expect to have days that I will wish I was with friends only to find myself a week away from the closest (in terms of physical distance) friends I have. I expect things to break and leave me stranded. I expect everything to go wrong.
I know… I know that I am a Survivor. I know that anything going wrong, I will get through. I know it will all make me into a stronger and better person. I know that this is just the start of a whole new leg of adventure in my life. I know that more adventures wait for me, and whether to follow my dreams or not is entirely up to me.
Let the adventure begin!