Running through all these Christmases is the sense of an emotional cadenza at the end of the year, a braiding of feelings like hope, renewal, nostalgia, love, joy and exhaustion. Yet in the stories about this holiday, it’s surprising how often we’re reminded of a darker life, full of isolation, penury, greed, despair and the fear that traps emotion within us.
-The NY Times editorial page, today
2010 will stand out in my mind for many things; I finished my masters, got a good job, raised my gear making and photography to a new level, met many great people, and achieved a paradigm shift in how I view outdoor adventuring. But above all, 2010 was the year in which I finally became an adult.
About time, eh?
In my post-MSW world, there is no longer some hypothetical future achievement which can (abstractly) be expected to categorically alter my life. What I have and am now can reasonably be expected to be, with subtle variations, what I have and am in the future. Reflecting on this has gone well with the expected, end of year, seasonal introspection of which the Times speaks. It has been the cause of both satisfaction and angst. And while there are many thing with which I am not satisfyied and which I hope to change in an enduring fashion, there are also many things of which I am proud. Examining the first 29.8 years of my life is, from this comfy chair on this quiet morning, majorily a fulfilling experience.
This year I learned, primarily through school, that there are still important things that I’m quite bad at, that there are things in life that I thought I might be that I will not be doing, and that choices I’ve made in the past have already limited choices I can make in the future. Most importantly, I’ve learned to embrace this more accurate, full, realistic poirtrate of my existence.
This year I learned that cultivating friends and partners, for today and for days in the future, is essential. Finishing up the second video this morning was an emphatic reminder of this.
This year a long dormant in interest in artistic expression and the sharing it allows was reawakened. I’m very pleased with the photography, videography, and writing I’ve done in the past 12 months, and the responses it has engendered. Thanks to all of you for being a part of that.
This year I learned that day trips are, to be blunt, bullshit. 18 months ago I was still quite uneasy with overnight trips. This year I sought out that uncertainty and looked at it right up close. And while I’m still afraid of solitude, I’m longer afraid of that fear. If I were to seriously ruminate upon and draw up a futile list of the 10 most significant outdoor adventures of my life, I think that half of them would have taken place this year. And while some of the packraft trips may have been more sublime, there is no question that the Thorofare trip in May was the greatest outdoor adventure of my life to date. It is just not possible to drink as deeply of the wilderness if you don’t spend the night. When I plan trips now, the ones which capture my interest the most are days long. When I write this essay a decade from now, I’m certain that adventures will be categorized as pre or post Thorofare.
This year I learned that making gear and sewing can be deeply satisfying, and that while I may come up short on detail work, I both enjoy and excell at big picture design work. I think about gear design and fabric science in categorically different ways today.
And this year I learned that packrafting rules. I’m not doing a list of best gear items, because there is the packraft, and then everything else. Get a raft, but at your peril: you will never look at outdoor adventures the same.
I expect great things from myself in the year to come. My job suits me perfectly, and I have no reason to suspect anything but better things as I continue to learn. But it is the vast wilderness complex to the east that really inflames my imagination. Winter is still something I’m working on and learning about, but come spring and summer, my confidence is large and my plans grandiose. After almost 30 years of walking in the woods my summer skillset is nearing completion, and I am very much looking forward to exercising it to the fullest extent. I suppose that, having found maturity at last, I am enjoying its benefits. 2011 should be a good year.