The Life Hike

Have you ever drastically changed your life? Of course you have. Dumb question. You’re taking the time to read this prestigious journal of learned teachings.

Say it was quitting a bad job or starting one with great prospects. The same for any human relationship. And when I say these things change your life, I am not speaking about your remainder of days on this planet. We don’t know yet what our actions will bring of us. *Quick aside* This Buddhist, maybe Taoist, definitely Asian, story keeps coming to my mind lately and I have to off-load it onto you now:

This is the story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

Pretty sweet story right? But not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the opposite.

Changes that affect your immediate life outlook after making the choice.

I remember leaving a bad job and living environment in Wisconsin to go work in Alaska and was giddy for the next four months. Every aspect of my days during this time had a sugar-coated halo surrounding it. My heart was light and my gratitude levels were off the chart. Then, I crashed. I fell into a deep depression and slept until 3 pm every day for the following six months. But I learned things.

Then I did it again. Another city, another job. Same results. Apparently, I didn’t learn anything.

I was addicted to change.

Most people don’t warn you about change because they either haven’t done it in a long time or they have never made a hare-brained change before

They may have changed companies, but their job remained more or less the same for thirty years. Their house might have changed, but only to another one with maybe an extra bedroom. Secure change.

My changes were always off-the-cuff with a good intention but lacking any substantial follow-through.

Though I am not one, I understand the drive of the serial entrepreneur. That quick hit that comes with making many risky and daring choices is alluring. It also unlikely to produce substantial and beneficial results. There’s a reason serial is also used to describe killers.

I am fortunate that I don’t have massive debt and live in the 21st century. Calories have never been cheaper. Entertainment and access to knowledge are laughably available to all. In my early twenties, this was all I required. And it was pretty fantastic. Except for the pits of soul-crushing depression I’d inevitably stumble in to.

Luckily, I could just change something massive and get back on the rollercoaster ride up! But even the rollercoaster must come to a stop, and when all is said and done, there was no net gain or loss in altitude. All the highs and lows equalize out when the ride is over and you’re sitting in the same place you started.

So I got the hell off the ride, I think, and decided to make my life a trek up into the mountains. The highs and lows are still there, they are just more gradual and full of scenery to appreciate. The goal isn’t to reach one final pinnacle. It may be in the short term, but always with the understanding that upon its summit I will see another in the distance.

Ideally, I will leave myself enough time on a peak I can pick out a rough path that will guide me to the next one. Or near enough to it. My mapping skills will get better with time. My stamina will grow. Knowledge of the flora and fauna will enhance the experience along with others who join me along the way.

The hike may lack the fleeting windows of pleasure from getting back on the rollercoaster, but it has one superior advantage.

A steady and moderated supply of happiness. Which sounds nice to me.