Winter has this certain type of desolation to it. It’s the kind of desolation that keeps me sane and makes me comfortable. I know that I can just hang out there in the snow all day and feel secure and at home. Because of the nature of winter and my obsession with riding the mountain I am found amongst the throngs of people inbounds. I hate it most when it’s busy and it seems to be busy all the time. Weekends are the worst. And the crowds this year have come in full force unlike anything I’ve ever seen at my home mountain. 

And now that winter seems to be on the thaw I think back to the south, to the deserts of Utah; to my bike, campfires, and tents. The spring and the crowds seem to drive me out of the serenity of winter and into the ever present desolation of the desert. 

What is it about these landscapes that lets me escape into dreams and places where there aren’t people? And if there are people they’re there for but moments. What is this inside? and is it inside? Or is it from outside, like the voices on the wind that I nearly always hear? The voice echos from the desert, from desolation, from naked places.

is to sit with coffee and begin to write. It’s the flavor and nostalgia that helps enable the flow of words onto this digital format. I mention it often. It is a good way to write.

During the winter I pursue skiing with all my passion. Waking up includes the habit of breakfast, ski clothes, and finally skiing. Everyday it’s like this and if I don’t catch myself I’m off to ski on a day that i really shouldn’t. I’ll come down early and sleep in the car when in fact I should have just stayed at home and worked on any of the many projects that I have going. Writing being one of them.

But the last week has been full of epic moments, from skiing 30″ deep pow in the Wasatch of Utah and then working with companies Marker and Volkl to spread the stoke on their brand, with which I’ve been left feeling somewhat nostalgic. So the cup of coffee is in order. And while I watch the snow melt I’m thinking about my friends in the north shredding the snow that I’ve been dreaming of all winter.

Pursuance of skiing surprised me as I’d all but given up on winter in exchange for time to ride my bike. Although winter seems to be drawing to a close forever, what with global warming and the eventual rise of global cooling.. I’ve regained a love for skiing. And I refuse to make it my job or any form of work. It is my time. Away from the bike and the shop and all its tools, I am free to reign in upon the mountains and shred the snow that in them lies.

During my days out I’ll use a variety of skis to accommodate my style for the day on whatever snow is available. I’ve skied the roughest snow on the worst days to make myself a better and stronger skier. I spend time scaring myself so that when the day comes to huck the cornice it does not go by without my accents upon it. And then when the pow day comes, the powder whores come out for a freeforall. They only ski on pow days. They don’t ski hard, iced up, balled up snow. They’re a bunch of towels. They’re soft, like their Black Diamond Skis. I ski right on by.

They also can’t ski all that well. Afraid to shred and spread the stoke they push all the snow to the bottom of the massive pow slope. And then there’s the cool dude from the east coast that used to race, on a ski break with all the dudes, killing it. And they dream of my life. My life is built on skiing. And everyday I push it harder. And I ride alone; in the glistening white of the fallen crystals surfing as it were through a dream where nothing else matters. Every turn is like the dream that soothes, every wave of snow like a moment frozen in time, all is magic and all concerns of life fall away. With days like this disappearing the memories become ever more important and intangible.

Days and weeks will go by without snow and like the weak reaching for the bread on a table that is too high, the hunger becomes all too consuming. Wonder and pain and doubt become waking thoughts; will it ever snow again? Still someone would take my roughest day on snow over their life stuck in an office. I am living a dream, making ends meet barely. I trade time for skis. I trade everything else for moments alone in the snow.

Skiing on the deepest days is what I live for. There is nothing else. And when winter ends, I search the dreams and memories for the times that I cannot bear to lose or forget.

“I once enjoyed a life, different from this, in opulence. In my younger years I would travel with friends and take pictures with them and do all the things that people do. My life was in the city with friends and family close by. It was a single cell. It was the life wrapped up nice and neat, predictable and beneficial. There was always some one to go out with for drinks or dinner. There was always a get-together at some one’s apartment or house. And sitting there with your closest friends, girlfriend in arms, and telling jokes, playing games, and eating dinner; those were special moments and you thought that no one else in the world could possibly be enjoying that same moment more than you were in that time and place.

“Those are all memories. And no one can take those from you. They become the most important part of your existence. But here’s the part that you don’t know. The part where the world around you that I now call ‘the good ole days’ all seems to fall away as if standing upon the edge of a precipice, looking down, wondering. The time arrives when you have to fake your excitement for others, hide the doubt in pictures of you with those closest to you; it’s when you start to drift away. Going out on the town becomes more of a rescue than a pleasure. It becomes this way because you start slipping.

“When your friends finally stop calling to do things and the loneliness starts to set in, the wilderness opens before your eyes. There is nothing there for you. Or so it would seem. Then like thunder rising from the dust a voice calls you to go. And finally, like me, you disappear.”

It has long been a tradition to place wish upon a star. When we were little we would look up into the night sky and wonder and make a wish upon that star. That star would glimmer forever and always mean to us what it meant in that strange moment when we thought that it could provide fulfillment. In the time that passes after the wish and childish things become wont, it becomes recognized as a dream that may never be.

Maybe we hold on to that dream and desire, we hope that wish will become a real thing even if it takes us to our last breath. Hope in a dream is what drives us and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. The dream is what we envision. It is what we desire. And then the sun comes out and we lose vision of the stars. Its bright light blinds us to the soft glimmer of our one star from which is strung the medallion of our wish. While we can’t see the star it is still there. It is glimmering. The brightness of the sun requires us to find diversions and sometimes lies to us that the hope of a dream isn’t realistic.

Returns the nighttime sky with our star. And the peace of the wish settles there. It is beautiful. It is our childhood dream. And then as the scientists explain, the light coming from that star disappears in a flash of supernova, occurring 1 million years ago. The wish hanging from a brilliant gold twine crashes down and expires, its star having exploded. Out of trillions of stars upon which to hang a wish and a hope, that one had to die. Do you take it as a sign? Do you take the opportunity to move onto the next star and make a new wish? Or is it simply said that, “it was a silly wish anyway”?

There’s a obsessive behavior  in people who have no real excitement in their lives. I see it and so does the market place. I love practical purchases. Gas. My first iPhone and then iPad. A bag of fresh ground coffee. There’s a satisfying feeling of buy things I can use. I use all my ski boots. I use all my skis. I use all my bikes. I have the necessary equipment for the job.

What I find is what the market place has found: create an appetite for useless things and that’s how you create a market. I think it is interesting how many things are manufactured, distributed, and purchased that have no real relevance to our needs as a civilization. Most things seem to me frivolous. And then I look at how I live compared to the target market that all this nonsense was made for.

I live a life that has limited means and therefore all my purchases must be calculated and proper. There’s no reason to buy things that are not functional or cannot be eaten. Anything else seems to be luxurious and futile.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are entire mansions filled with memorabilia of that family’s vacations and items that were purchased there. They can surround themselves with the artifacts of their lives and adventures. It’s strangely object based, bringing something more than a memory back from a trip. And then that item sits upon a shelf, collecting dust, and is a mere representation of something that is otherwise intangible.

What I’m getting at is that it seems unlikely for us to actually make use of all that random things that don’t have a use. The concept that a table is purchased simply because it is wanted, with the objective that it fill a corner in the house doesn’t calculate for me.

I return to the point that I originally presented: the excitement that is missing from the lives of the busy is found in the adventures outside the office, homes, and resorts. For those who do not pursue adventure on a daily basis there seems to be a need to have something physical so the week of exciting moments on the river is not forgotten. For others, surrounding themselves with things they’ve purchased and have no idea why indicates a lack of adventure, a serious lack of uncertainty in their lives.

This idea has been growing inside my mind because it seems so obvious that our society indulges in frivolous activities. I return from a day of backcountry skiing with my life. I have cheated the elements again. I rappel 130 feet from the top of an arch, cheating gravity and experiencing the thrill of not knowing what could happen. Those are the moments that define me. I can’t buy a little statue that shows me how much that’s changed me. The uncertainty of stepping outside is what changes and defines.

In conclusion, the mindset needs to change from “what can I buy” and “mindless purchasing power” to “where can I go?” and “what can I do?”

I’ve been able to find myself in wilder places during the uncomfortable times in life. It’s soothing, necessary, and incomparably beautiful. The most recent of times have been trying: finding myself ever more displeased with the nature of working in a want-based society, the ails of death and illness, and the overall lack of good judgment executed by the leaders of your country. It is difficult, at best, to remain within a society which no longer appreciates the benefits of a stroll in the woods.

There is something greater, there, in the forests, on the high point in a valley of red sandstone, or on a river in a boat. And though there is much more there than is found in your office on the 14th floor; what is not there is a pot of gold. The financier has no boat waiting at the top of the mountain for there is nothing there. There will always be those who climb the mountain for the tangible reward, only to be disillusioned when they arrive and find nothing but another pile of rocks and that they have only climbed to the top of what then appears to be the neighborhood’s tallest pile of sand.

The more I work, selling things to people because they need them, however they need them, I long for the life outside and need it more as the days go on. Everyday inside requires another two outside. And I’m not the only one. I refer to Ed Abbey often because I relate to what he had to say. It makes sense that a man must be outside in his natural environment for healing, mental reprieve, and above all, fresh air. The times when I’m surrounded by the walls of civilized life are when the shadows become monsters and the monsters become real. There is no reason to be so afraid of going outside. The monsters are on the inside.

For relief, I recently took a ski trip away from my home ski town, to a place much less crowded. My home town is over run and hardly what it used to be. The angry metropolitans have come and brought their lifestyle with them: fancy cars, attitude, and increased property taxes to name few. So when I take a ski trip I go to a place that is far from that and far removed from the convenient way of airline travel. Those conveniences that bring metros to my town are the ones that we really don’t need. Not people like me anyway. That’s all part of eliminating the journey, making it too easy to forget, and henceforth commonplace. All of that takes away from the happiness of the man..

During this particular trip a friend was with whose mom died at the very close of our stay. She wasn’t home, a couple hours away as it were. It had been expected and welcome from my understanding. It was a case of Lou Gerhigs, one that slowly disables the body until the victim becomes a prisoner of the body until it finally gives up body function. It seems to be the only thing worse than cancer. It seems that her mothers death was also a relief. And so she was skiing, coping, living. It was her way to deal with it. And in her mothers passing, she was being healed by the very presence of the natural world that surrounded her.

To those who seek continued destruction of natural places in the vain pursuit of oil and trees and minerals, there will come a time when you will find no peace in the destruction of your world. You will be restless and sick most of your life, dealing with the ignorance that you’ve destroyed the one resource that can restore health to a beleaguered spirit.

Make a journey, forget your wealth, find the wild places, leave behind the wretched dirty air of your sterile office and find adventure. Learn to survive.

Today I had the privilege of skiing with an Aussie who lives in Sweden. He admitted that he was there, like most men, for the women. I wonder if they are really different there. I really wonder. Nonetheless, our conversations drifted from skiing to mountaineering to professions.. I spoke of how I left my attempt at a professional financier in ruin and how I couldn’t live that way again. He is a doctor that is now pursuing a life in the mountains as a mountain medic or something of that nature. And we talked about American consumerism. And the more I am in retail, the more I see the disgraceful behavior of a civilized nation blending privilege with indulgence.

What I see more and more is a nation with every possible product to consume, some for no reason at all, just to buy them. And the presence of such a marketplace denotes a free economy that has created a level of wealth unknown to many nations and most of the world. My personal consumption of products is focused on bikes and skis, and the necessary paraphernalia that each sport requires for extreme performance. I am able to care for my skis and my bikes, without the help of another mechanic, in most instances. I spend my income on food that supplies a healthy diet, I don’t over consume products because that leads to waste, and generally I aim to reduce the amount of dependence I have on a marketplace driven by appetite for useless products. I live relatively close to work. My activities are not completely free of carbon footprint but I can respectfully say that I’m working on it. Somethings just wear out and have to be recycled, leaving a trail of waste from the beginning of the product life cycle to the end.

But we all look for ways to reduce and to recycle so that our world doesn’t grow angry with us. And then the rest of the time I am in the mountains whether on bike, foot, or ski enjoying the natural world which means more to me than many of you will understand. The wilderness is requisite to my existence. I cannot survive without it.

The adventure that comes with wandering the wild places of home are what bring life to a person. Their stories become legend and they are interesting.

It’s knows to most that the larger part of the United States’ demographic lives below a certain income level. And that level represents most of what pays for shelter and food. Anything extra pays for what small luxuries they can afford, whether it is the semblance of some well-todo behavior with trips to a nice restaurant once a year or a family struggle to get to Disneyland to experience the fun-filled day of commercialism.

When I was young, and I wasn’t young for long, mom was resolved and committed to raising me by herself. I spend a lot of time reflecting on that. Albeit she had to work all the time and I was often alone, left to entertain myself and develop who I would become in private. It has been a lonely road. My mistakes have become my own and not the results of my experiences of formative years.

But things that stand out when I regard parenting are that humans have some change in reality when children are born. They start to perceive things in regards of how the decisions they make will affect the outcome of the distant future of their children. When I was young mom would save and scrimp to accommodate a trip for the two of us to California to visit Disneyland. It was expensive for us. For others of greater financial liquidity, this trip was a normal day. We would go and have a great time. What I learn in retrospect is that mom gave everything to see me smile.

We would go out sometimes for a meal at a restaurant. We wouldn’t do too much else. I learned at a young age that I could ride a bike around the block and try to beat the arrival of the school bus. I also learned that I didn’t like the school bus. And thus began my transition to finding myself in a world that was defined by how much privilege you could maintain.

I never really amounted to much because I liked to ride bikes so much. I liked working on bikes. And wherever I went I returned to that baseline. My short stint as a financial professional left me disillusioned and disenfranchised from the big money makers. So I learned to take my meager existence and enjoy what luxuries I can. In the mornings of bright, warm days I enjoy the solitude of the morning coffee and think about riding bikes. I maintain my health in my luxuries.

I ride bikes. I swim. I run. I hike. I don’t go to health clubs because the expense of that social atmosphere doesn’t fit into my budget. I don’t eat out a lot for the same reason. I take trips to places where I can ride bikes and do other fun activities. The fun involves exercise which I enjoy. I kill 2 birds this way. And I enjoy a life that few people do. These are my privileges. I take them. I don’t do anything else. I work and I play. I know this can’t last forever but for now it works. It’s all I have. And as such, being a person without means, I walk the knife’s edge. If something goes wrong, I get injured or I lose my job, or something sets me back financially, it’s over.

These are not the lessons that my mother would have wanted me to learn. But I am here with no real means of changing my state so I enjoy the moments that are given me as I walk the knife’s edge. How we enjoy life is up to us. How we navigate the wilderness that is before us is reflected by this.

For most people waking up to an alarm signals the beginning of the work day. Since my work day lately starts at 10 or 12 I don’t need an alarm. Most days I wake with the rising sun. Most days I get up for reasons other than going to work. This life is easy but without challenge there is little reward. The reward for me is to set that alarm so I can get up, get my junk together and head out to the pool or lake for a swim, for an exploratory mountain bike ride or exploratory trail run. When I wake up to a life like that how could I complain?

Still there seems to be not enough time to be outside!! There are plenty of  mornings where I just take it easy and blog and update my website. I think about the endeavors I am currently pursuing and getting further into them. I search for my next adventure, I spend time scouring maps and looking for my next treasure. And yet, out my front and back door I am resident to the gorgeous Wasatch and Uintah mountains of Utah. I love this place.

I don’t live in a city and endure the struggle of the city life, the financial professional in search of his wealth, or the medicine man of modern marvels and his stresses, I’m no politician nor am I a homeless man. I am a vagabond in spirit but I have a steady and simple life that is built around playing outside. I’ve been a financial professional. This blog site was started during that time. The stress level in my life since that time has decreased dramatically. I could recommend it to anyone! I mean, when you get up to an alarm to go play? c’mon.

Alex woke every morning to the same happy life, in Manhattan. He woke one day and somehow, through the night, something had changed. A dream maybe. But on eyes open, he felt different. So he began a journey to find what was lost, in search of something that he couldn’t have known before. He meets Charlotte, a beautifully attractive private equity manager who seems to know things that she has hidden from herself about the natural world in pursuit of her career. They become fast friends and their paths merge several times before the end. Alex eventually alienates his long time love, in part because she just can’t understand what’s happened and where life has begun to lead him.

Alex’s story is like all of us. We wander through life wondering what purpose we have until we reach a true land of desolation, a place where water is scarce and in every way is a landscape modeled after our own emotional and psychological desolation. Alex falls out of love, into another love, and then another. Charlotte eventually follows the call of a different life. When Alex and Charlotte meet years later they run away together.

While all this is happening an old man wanders through the deserts of Utah having left a life behind. As he returns to the world he left behind, he discovers that his mother is dying and that his old father died while in search of him. When search and rescue found his body he was face down next to a spring. When they returned the body to his mother she fell ill and was slowly dying. And this old, wandering soul has to face her. And in a short time she passes. He returns to his wilderness and comes across a couple out in the wild. They said they’d come from New York and that they would die before they went back.

(I’m writing this story. if you like the concept, please leave some feedback for me. I’d love ideas too!)

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