Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Gear on the cheap, friends at a cost
First off, I start this entry with a shameless plug for consumerism! I have discovered a discount 'gear' site that is rivaled only by my long time favorite, steep and cheap. Here is a link if you are interested in steeply discounted, quality outdoor gear: www.theclymb.com The only catch I have detected so far...just like every other web site, they want your e-mail address.
Ironically, I discovered this site two days after taking on a "30 day do it challenge," inspired by a TED talk, to buy nothing new for 30 days (excluding food, health and safety items). This is an idea that I stole from
The Compact, a group of folks in San Francisco who agreed with each other to buy nothing new for a year. I have admired their goals since I first heard about the idea several years ago, but have not taken any official action on the matter until now.
To add to the challenge, in addition to discovering this new discount-gear website, I was also sent a $100 gift certificate to REI from my sister, and meanwhile, I received an e-mail from REI outlet describing how ridiculous their latest sale is. This is a true challenge for an ex gear junkie like myself. Though I live simply, I have spent uncounted hours on the internet, scrounging for bargains on gore-tex and merino wool, working coupons and sales and free shipping options to the best of my advantage, reading hundreds of reviews on products of all types to make sure that even though I travel with relatively little, it will be the best of the best, and it will cost me less than most people spend. Retail prices make me scoff.
It is time to start changing my expectation that at some point I will have a very clear picture of what I want to do with my life. I have been journeying these past several years with the thought that, “hey, at some point in the future, the direction that I'm heading will become clear to me, where I'm going to “end up,” and/or what my goals really are.” Though I have spent much time reflecting and planning and wondering and wandering, my future still seems very much up in the air. I have the same long-term goals that I have had for quite some time: to be a good father; to build my own home; to live a life of love, learning, health and celebration while doing my part to better the Earth and all of its inhabitants. Yet the older I get, the more opportunity presents itself for further adventure, travel, risk-taking and meeting wonderful people all over the place. I feel much less sure of where I will be next year than I did one year ago at this time. I often feel ill at ease about this fact for some reason, which I think is due to my own expectations as well as what I view as the expectations of the society that I live in. It is time for me to let go of these expectations and realize that my life will be different, perhaps indefinitely so, and that's OK.
Previously, I also believed that at some point, I would get tired of traveling, and I would “settle down” in one place for a long period of time, develop community ties and a close-knit group of friends, grow some of my own food, and put down roots. The more I travel, however, the more I want to see and know and do. Already, next year is looking full of opportunity for adventure, learning, discovery and freedom. I seem to be pushing “in one place” back further and further.
Along the path, I have made several good friends. I have also met a good handful of people with whom I made an instant connection, and am now trying to keep that connection strong in spite of the separation of distance and time. After having spent a few months now in North Carolina, I am developing some great friendships with really good people. And then I'm moving on. I have already planned my bike route to New York City from here, and will be stopping to see friends in Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New Jersey along the way. For the first time in a long while, my sadness about leaving is rising to a level somewhere in the realm of my excitement about continuing on. It reminds me of the friends I made and left in Minnesota, whom I miss dearly. And the friends I made on the road, whom I may not see again for several years. And the friends I left back in California, most of whom I will not see for at least another 6 months, but perhaps longer, depending on my chosen path.
I have become the type of person who is ready to reveal myself completely and immediately to new friends, desiring relationships based on true knowing rather than surface interactions. Trust comes easy for me now, but much of the rest of humanity is not this way. Making good friends often takes time, which I have not invested in many places. This leaves me desiring to be closer to the people that I'm near, even if they don't feel the same way. I think I am on the verge of making decisions based more on people than on places, whereas the opposite has been true in the recent past. All the wild, wonderful, undiscovered places of the world will not make me happy without someone to share them with.