Sunday, March 25, 2012

Springing Forward

I'd like to open this post by quoting a friend of mine, "Grizzly Adam," who recently penned: "I write in an effort to reconcile the heart and mind."  That simple sentence rang deep with me today. This year has been a winding path, involving  introspection I haven't employed since college days. A challenging equation of emotion, reflection, consequences, and many opinions from others...but only one voice that really matters. Deep inside, it knows what is right, and needed. These past couple of weeks I've felt it all coming together finally, helped along by some well-timed work travels around this beautiful state of Idaho. While running along big wild rivers, driving empty highways, talking with salt-of-the-earth people, and taking in more natural beauty than eyes can absorb, the soul is activated.  Yesterday's sublime bike ride with friends from Jackson to Teton Park, Jackson Lake Dam & back brought even more clarity.  It's a peaceful, easy feeling.

Going back to my college Economics studies, one of my favorite courses compared & contrasted two different theories of behavior: "abundance" vs. "scarcity."  The theory of abundance holds that there is plenty of everything - time, resources, supply, demand, knowledge, love.  It engenders a calm attitude; prices remain stable, and decisions are made rationally.  Scarcity, on the other hand, holds that we're about to run out of everything, prompting panic, fear, anxiety, price spikes, and irrational decisions.  Along those lines, I've always sought out calm places to think, and feel the world's abundance. Last week, the town of Salmon, Idaho, provided a perfect opportunity for this. I was there for work, and started one morning off with a beautiful run along the Salmon River. It's the longest undammed river in the lower 48, rich with fish and feeling.  Geese were active, snow was melting off the foothills, my blood was flowing, and promise of spring filled the air.  There was energy and purity in the air, and abundance ruled the day.

The journey continued up the road near Challis, Idaho.  I'm working with the county there to sealcoat some of their roads, one of which is in the amazing Pahsimeroi Valley. Pahsimeroi means "tall grass" in the native Shoshoni language.  The valley begins small and innocuously enough, then suddenly opens up into a huge, raw expanse like The Land That Time Forgot. I was open-mouthed as we drove mile after unpopulated mile, with mountain ranges on either side and nothing but an abandoned old mining town (Patterson) up the road.  We saw pheasants and fox, cattle and sheep, eagles and hawks.  Elk roam the river bottom year round now, as wolves have pushed them out of the mountains. Kids ride busses up to 90-minutes to school, and dirt roads & trails lead to remote lakes, beckoning the mountain bike & fishing pole. Yes, places like this still exist, and it's good.

Back home, I connected with longtime buddies Dino and Jimmy over in Jackson one night. They're both from the Minneapolis area; Dino moved to Jackson a few years ago and works as a snowmobile guide, and Jimmy visits often.  These guys are as solid as it gets, and we have nearly 20 years of history. Our excuse for catching up this time was the Jackson Snowmobile Hillclimb.

Spring around here is schizophrenic. It was winter on Monday, but by Friday sunshine and 60-degree temperatures prevailed in Jackson Hole. The snowmobile hillcimb went on in slushy conditions, with thousands of specatators and some great racing up Snow King Mountain.  I saw dozens of friends, took in the sunshine, and smiled.

There's a lightness of being that occurs when acting from love, not fear, while surrounding yourself with people who bring you up, not down. Abundance can then be felt. Truly knowing who you are and what you want makes things better for everyone, but it's an insight that requires distress, time, and courage. In the end, as one of my baseball favorites Yogi Berra once said, "when you come to a fork in the road, take it."  Yogi, my form isn't the best, but I'm diving in.

Bridger loves it when the snow starts melting off, exposing earth with new smells.  Days are growing longer & warmer, and new chapters are in the air.  It will all be good, no matter what.  I've got a great job that allows me to live in Driggs, good friends & family, and I'm surrounded by mountains that make my light shine. It's a path to peace, and no regrets. Spring forward!

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