M and I have lived in some damn nice places over the past 13 years, but in the six days since we and our massive accompaniment of boxes rolled into Colorado I’ve had many more than the usual number of pinch me, I can’t believe we’re here moments. There was walking the border of Colorado National Monument, following rabbit tracks through fluffy, two-day old snow, before setting Little Bear down for a walk break and watching in bemusement as he discovered (got stuck in) melting clay soil. There was the top of Joe’s Ridge, a day later and with the other painted view of the Grand Valley, contemplating lungs roasted by a chest cold and poor fitness, and the incalculable options for riding within view. If only I’ll eventually learn enough to see them all. And there was this afternoon, on a short stroll up slickrock ledges, with LB turned loose from the backpack and crawling, walking, and crabwalking sideways with abandon as he tested new limits for his evolving balance and of legs stronger seemingly by the hour.
It’s a satisfying feeling, knowing that we’ll all put many more miles into this corner of the planet, that Little Bear will really learn to hike and bike and paddle and ski here. It’s the landscape I fell in adult love with, when I was just old enough to begin to understand how my own limits shaped what I saw through my eyes, and the place in which M and I began in earnest our journey as a couple. The satisfaction is, in short, from looking back and seeing all the choices that have led us to be back where we wanted to be, and in circumstances that involve no real compromise at all.
These things do not happen by chance. For over a decade we’ve willfully and without complaint limited our effective incomes by only living in place which are, from an outdoor recreation and aesthetic perspective, truly desirable. We’ve lived in smaller, sometimes outright dingy apartments and bought or built cheap furniture while spending serious money on bikes and packs and boats and guns, and most importantly, gas and food to go places to use them. We’ve turned down invitations to parties and weddings and family events because we had planned ___, or because ____ would be in good condition. All of which is to say that the richness of our memories, skills, and gear closets has been purchased by corresponding deficits elsewhere. Nothing is free, and no one these days ends up living in an A list outdoor location because of luck. They do so via deliberation, sacrifice, and most likely a background suffused with enough privilege to allow such frivolous choices in the first place.
In a few weeks this blog will be a decade old. The first 3 or so years of posts are exceedingly uninteresting, even to me, save in moments of historical curiosity or indulgent introspection. In 2010 I started to take writing, and the blog, more seriously. I migrated it to wordpress for more creative control, and the result is what you’re looking at now; six years of staying the course, or doing mostly the same thing and letting content evolve in tune with my life. I’ve thought about, and rejected, changes in content and approach which would make Bedrock & Paradox a source of direct income. As I told Andrew this summer, I’ve never made a cent (in cash) here. I’ve gotten some cool free stuff, met a bunch of great people, gone places I likely never would have otherwise been, and built a resume which led to several fantastic jobs, including the one I start next week. Any one of those would have been sufficient return, spiritually or economically, on my investment of ~200 dollars in fees to WordPress and however many hours thinking and typing. Let alone all of them.
None of that is ever likely to change. I can’t see myself ever doing affiliate links, ads, sponsored content, or more consistent posting of more consistently amenable content to increase traffic.
Currently, in the post-LB world, I have in time and inspiration two co-equal limits on posting here. And even amongst the chaos of the last two weeks, and the posting draught which has been the direct result, I do not think waking hours has been the more significant of the two. When my days are as full as they’ve been this month, I don’t have enough downtime to think, and the direct result of that is not having things well-formed enough to be worth writing. During even the most banal stretches of the past six years I’ve had lots to say here, provided the conditions existed so that I could get to where they were worth saying. Doing redundant how-to essays, or discussions of products which are of only marginal interest, would worsen, not improve, the conditions for contemplation or creativity. I’ve seen it elsewhere, quite directly, over the past six years: an outdoor blog comes into existence, becomes popular, becomes more professional, and becomes less interesting to read. Thankfully I’m finally in a position where I can be my own patron; keep food in the fridge, keep new(ish) shoes in the mail, keep paying wordpress for space, as well as give myself conditions which should foster writing better than ever. Given the current landscape, I see no reason to do otherwise, or why the next decade won’t be as rewarding as the last.
Thanks, everyone, for being here for it.