I grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a beautiful state, that has been graced by nature with areas of truly awe-inspiring geography. From the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the endless ribbons of wooded mountains and valleys stretching down its spine.
In 1783, Thomas Jefferson traveled to Harper’s Ferry (then Virginia) and upon seeing the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac River remarked that this natural wonder “is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountains being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in that plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around to pass through the breach and participate in the calm below…This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”
But Jefferson never traveled west of the Appalachians. He could only imagine what his Corp of Discovery, led by Lewis and Clark had witnessed and seen on their journey to the Pacific and back. As a teenager, I too hiked high above Harpers Ferry and like Jefferson meditated with the beauty of the confluence. But Jefferson never saw the sunrise in Eastern Montana, the sunset and alpenglow on the Mountains in Glacier National Park. If Harper’s Ferry is “worth a voyage across the Atlantic”, then Montana is worth low bagging to get to. Montana is worth all the pains of having your heartbroken while you’re a zit faced teenager knowing that things are going to be better. Montana is worth the late night insomnia of doubt about what you should do with your life. Montana is worth all this and more. Not just one view worthy, but thousands, from the soul swallowing immensity of the Missouri Breaks to every peak in the Spanish Peaks.
Thank God I was not born in Montana and never had these state backdrops of Montana infused into my life before consciousness. Every drive is a discovery, every trip across this state another opportunity to fall in love and realize the promise of life. Montana, worth a voyage from anywhere.
We’re not going to die, we’ll find a way. We’ll breathe deeply and eat carefully. We’ll think always on life. There’ll be no fading for you or for me. We’ll be the first and we’ll not laugh at ourselves ever and your children will be my grandchildren. Nothing will have changed except by addition. There’ll never be another as you and never another as I. No one ever will confuse you nor confuse me with another. We will not be forgotten and passed over and buried under the births and deaths to come.
Tomorrow I begin my 18th year of teaching. Roughly 1,800 students can say that I attempted to teach them. I’ve grown an immeasurable amount since that first period bell rung so many years ago.
Summer break has come to an end. It really came together, much accomplished, much learned and the experiences I lived through recharged me, brought me back to a good place. I think I might finally be where I’m supposed to be. Thank you to everyone, I’m so lucky.
One final last trip into the backcountry this weekend. The weather didn’t cooperate, but even on her worst days Montana is where you want to be.
A decade ago somebody told me to find a picture of myself as a kid. I had to find a picture in which I looked happy. Furthermore I was instructed to think back to the mindset that I had when the picture was taken so that I could capture the innocence, joy, unmitigated happiness of youth, if only as a memory.
Perhaps life’s greatest tragedy is that we lose that sense of youth.
What a difference patience, wisdom and maturity add to any situation. This has been the summer of waiting for those first reactions to pass. There is power in letting fierce emotion blast through your consciousness and waiting for the right and true response to develop. Caught between the poles of getting things done and getting things correct is a sweet spot that allows for you to be genuine.
This summer I bought a good microphone. A Podcast is coming. No great theme, no great mission. Me talking to people. I love good stories, interesting people and intelligent arguments. Stay tuned.
Today’s reading in Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic dealt with recognizing joy. We often live in constant hunger for more, something we don’t currently have. Imagine that, with the blink of an eye, you have all that you desire. Would it be joyous? Bliss?
What if we have already achieved joy, but desire masks the symptoms? What would make you happy right now? Don’t let desire cancel joy. I spent three consecutive days floating the North and Middle Fork of the Flathead, pure bliss. My mind was unsettled, my conscious convicted and my attention erratic. Always ask, “Is this joy?” If it is, savor it.
I’m traveling far and wide in the next few weeks. I’ve also given up on Facebook (for now) which was the primary way people linked up with this blog. If you think what I have to say is at all worth sharing, please do.
This past weekend Whitefish hosted the first Under the Big Sky music festival. On almost every level, musically, organizationally, socially and any other metric you could think of this event was nearly perfect.
One of the best parts of Spring in the Flathead Valley is the slow opening of the Going To The Sun Road inside Glacier National Park. As the National Park Service works to plow and remove the snow to Logan Pass, the road is open to cyclist only. And so for roughly two months unparalleled road riding is available. It’s a treasure and a gift that I simply can’t get enough of.