Prioritize Passion

03/09/19

What time of day do you feel most awake? When do the ideas flow? Perhaps in the shower? Or as you sip your first coffee? Maybe you get your high from running? Perhaps you sort things out on your morning drive? All just in time to begin the grind.

3 degrees, the green digits displayed from the dash. I cranked up the music. I prepared for the 10th round of the fight. The slam of the door erupted into the night. With every step, the frigid wind bit. My socks were soaked. My knees screamed. I threw a weak right hook toward the handle, I missed. I tried again.

The bell rattled. My call to action. "Guest wants three comforters and two humidifiers." "Shit!" I wanted to quit. I tightened my fist.

The door to the rec room was propped open by a towel. A trail of half crushed beer cans led outside. A group of rowdy southern frat boys sloshed around in the foamy jacuzzi. "You kickin’ us out?" One of them slurred. "Yep. The pool closed at 10." "Ah come on, just five more minutes." another one said. "It's quarter till eleven, I've already given you 45." They finally left. Round Eleven.

I grabbed the tarp. A sheet of ice. It ripped in pieces as it scraped my bare hands. The phone chirped again. "Fuck!"

"Guests say their tv is broken. Please assist."

“One more hour of bullshit to go.” I told myself. Just another night on-call.

A spot opened up. I needed a change.

For the past week, I've been working days.

Suddenly the conversations flow. I smile from time to time. Hell, this afternoon I even caught myself nodding blissfully to a song. There hasn't been much sun, the sky’s been white. But I can finally see! And what a time for it. The entire resort is buried in snow. It's breathtaking. I’ve been packing my camera with me.

The shifts are still long, but I haven't dozed off once. Nor have I slammed a single door. Yep, I was right, working days is much more natural. There’s just one problem. By the time I slip off my soggy shoes, my tank is completely dry.

I've tried to write a few times, but my thoughts are a mess. I've tried reading, but I can't concentrate. I've even tried watching Netflix, but I don't care enough to decide. After ten hours of walking the resort, all I want to do is sleep.

With every hour of this past week, the anxiety has grown. In vacant lots between calls, I’ve tried to slip away. But each time I’m called back to work by that god-awful chirp. In the evenings, it’s all I can think about. But my fingers are either paralyzed, or drunkenly dumb. They’re far from sober now. But I can’t take it anymore. I NEED TO WRITE.

And so, I've realized. Nights were tough, but they were worth it. It's not about what you get paid for, but what you prioritize.

For three months straight, I filled my mornings with productivity. I'd wake up around 8 or 8:30. Stretch, read, study Japanese, and write. Sure, I was always exhausted by the time I clocked in, and it was always a grind, but that shift just was overtime.

For three months I was a writer who paid the bills with some temporary gig at night. Now, in this week working days, I feel like an employee. I’ve lost my identity.

What's your most productive time? When do your thoughts flow? What do you think about most? What are your goals? Identify. Prioritize. Do what you have to, to pay the bills. But don't ever sacrifice your identity. In four weeks, I leave on (self)assignment.   

 

 

 

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Positivity is key

"Don't fall!" the little girl on the lift warned me. "That's part of it!" I said jokingly. As I stepped off the gondola, I looked left, "Spring Dipper" was the closer walk. "Na, I'd better take it easy" I thought to myself and turned toward "Schoolmarm", the classic green run to the right. The snow was lumpy. Not quite ice, but it'd been baking in the sun for the past two days. My turns felt okay. My music wasn't right. Nothing fit the mood. I'd been anxious all day. I accelerated.

Into it, I carved, toe side. I didn’t bother slowing down. In my head, I envisioned what not to do. "It's simple, let your shoulders guide you". I began the spin. My back faced down the slope. I hesitated. My edge caught, my head whipped. At the clouded sky, I stared from the snow. My goggles were crooked. My helmet loose.

"Are you okay?" The little girl from the lift cruised past. "Yeah, you warned me." I said through a laugh.

My head hurt a bit, and I was slightly embarrassed, but mainly, I was so thankful to be okay. Envision doubt and you'll fail. Positivity is key.

keystone at sunset

keystone at sunset

High on life

My keys were still stuffed securely against my ribs. My phone still played music. Anxiously, I patted myself down from the chairlift. Something was missing. I spotted it. The small zipper on my right thigh was slightly open. “Shit.”

With two frozen fingers, I probed the wallet pocket. My license and credit card were still there. So was my earbud case. Hell, even my chap stick. It seemed everything was accounted for. "But wait, wasn't there something else?" "Of course, the pen!"

"Well, if you're going to throw it away..." I'd accepted it with reluctance, from a friend who'd come to visit from out of state. I'd purchased them in the past, and I was aware of the dangers of their convenience.

No, I’m not exactly what you'd call a stoner. At least I hope not. But I have taken advantage of the liberal Colorado laws with regularity. Rarely ever more than one breathe. I see small doses of THC as a means of clarity. More akin to a cup of coffee than a shot of whiskey.

Unlike in past stints, this winter, I've taken several breaks. Most recently, I avoided any intoxicants for three weeks.

But last week, while rummaging through my sock drawer, I felt the cool metal pen. I inhaled. I released. The feeling was mild. Only recognizable because we'd met previously. Things were a little clearer. I was more observant than usual.

The next day, I hit it again. The third day marked a trend. I couldn't come up with a reason not to, so I did it again. And again. And again.

On the lift, in the blaring Summit County sun, I couldn't see my breathe. "Is this thing frozen?" I thought. I couldn't tell if it was working. Uncharacteristically, I inhaled several times. As we unloaded the chair, it hit me. I'd taken too many. I felt the anxiety.

On the way back up, I realized it was gone. But I was far from upset. Instead, I laughed at how at times life gives us signs. In just thirteen days, I leave Summit County. Four days after that, I board a flight to Japan.

In Asia I won't be able to get a pen or any other form of cannabis. But that's quite alright. Because you see, when you travel, your eyes are open, as is your mind. When you escape the comforts of a routine, in a way, life gets simpler. There's no time to think about "what ifs" or "whens". Your body’s just trying to figure out how to find the essentials and survive.

When you're on the road, you meet people, and interact outside. There's no time to sit around and get lost in your own mind. When you're challenging yourself, everyday becomes an eternity. At the smallest successes, like finding your way in a foreign subway, filling your stomach with a piping hot bowl of foreign cuisine, or even sharing a smile on some foreign street, you feel deep satisfaction inside.  

I’m addict. I want it daily. I get this urge to experience it, that I’ll hopefully never satisfy. At home, I find this mellow baseline.

When I travel, it’s not all happy. There’re valleys, and canyons, who’s depths may make you question why. Oh, but the peaks. There’s no feeling quite like being tuned in to the highs of life.

 

 

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Why is it so easy to ignore the things we like?

After my friend Jayson left on February 6th, I just wasn't feelin’ it. I went out for a few laps on the 15th. Then again on the 20th. A piece of my binding broke. My knees ached from work. It got cold. I booked a flight home to Texas for March first. I picked up a few extra shifts to make up for time missed.

28 inches in 24 hours, Summit finally got a big storm, and I was out of town. I looked forward to a few afternoon laps last Tuesday after flying in. But an avalanche closed the interstate and led to a costly detour.

Four days of work followed. My first 7-5 shifts. Stress and indifference toward the mountain pushed me to make the switch from nights. I didn't even care to ride.

Work got crazy. The crowds arrived. On Sunday, my first day off, I watched the traffic filter past my window on 6.

Yesterday, I went to Break, but left my gear at home. I decided to visit a cafe and take photos instead.

Last night, I looked at my board in the corner. Leaned sideways with my helmet attached. It'd been collection dust for nearly three weeks.

"Take at least three laps" I wrote in my notes before going to bed.

I didn't sleep great. I woke up a bunch of times. I checked my phone. The forecast called for a high of 48 degrees. "It's going to be a slushy mess." I thought. "and the crowds ..." "It's going to be dangerous." I let the excuses amass.

"Heading out soon?" I texted a friend in an attempt to right the ship. "Shit, there goes the 8:54 bus." The next one wouldn't arrive for another twenty minutes. I sipped some coffee in the kitchen, watching the cars creep by. There were clouds on the horizon. My friend still hadn’t replied. 9:05. 9:07. 9:10. I grabbed my board and headed for the bus stop.

Not cold, but still crisp. In the sun, I tightened my boots at the bottom of the lift. Surprisingly, the line was empty. In anticipation of a shared chair, I left an earbud out. Garret from Iowa provided pleasant company on the trip through the trees.

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I was concerned that I'd feel uncomfortable. That in 20 days away I may had forgotten how to ride. But from my first turn, it felt right. The snow wasn't hard, nor was it slush. The runs were empty, and the air was fresh. Blue filled the sky, and the mountains were all white. Clarity on the horizon, and in my mind.

After three runs, I felt refreshed, and I began to type.

The bills, the appointments, the deadlines, the anticipation. Not a day goes by where these things don't dominate my mind. Yet all too often, I forget about great it is to enjoy the present.

Why is it so easy to ignore the things we like?

Dying to find out

"People at home will have questions... They'll want answers... Shit."

Somewhere over West Texas, it hit me that I'd be berated about my upcoming trip. On the tiny metal tray table, I laid out my notebook and a pen.

"Where will you go?" A question that I'd surely be asked. I did my best to construct a decent response. "I'll be at a hostel in Osaka for the first four weeks, and then I'll go to a remote mountain village in a prefecture called Kochi. Afterward, I've got options. Perhaps I'll go to Taiwan, or Vietnam. I'm really not sure." I thought about how the uncertainty would cause doubt. And inevitably lead to "How long will you be gone?" "At least ten weeks." I'd say "But, the truth is, I don't know."

"And how will you afford this?" They'd ask. "I'll volunteer for room and board." More doubt would follow. Then would come the “what ifs”.

"What if you get hurt?" "What if you run out of money?" "What if you get lonely?" "What if you get sick?"

The thought of such questions sent me back to a time when I asked them myself.

That year after university, I hit an all time low.  I'd quit my job, moved back home and found total misery. Yet I still couldn't work up the courage to take a leap. For about 18 months, all I managed to do was stare at screens. Telling myself I was doing research, but really just procrastinating. From age 22 to nearly 24, I put off life. Consumed by the "what ifs" and too scared to try.

I moved to Colorado for the ski pass, and I discovered an entire lifestyle of living one season at a time.

Back in my window seat, I remembered how wrong I'd been about every leap I'd taken in the past two years. And how the unexpected moments were by far the most impactful.

Like how I found myself in southern Spain because of a suggestion from a friend I met in France. And how I looked up from my notebook at a cafe and met an amazing Swiss family. How I befriended my driver from Granada to Ronda and how the next day, we reconnected, and spent an afternoon exploring and sharing tapas and drinks.

I viewed WWOOFing as a way to stretch my savings, but it was so much more than that.  

How could I have guessed that I'd fall for a French girl on a ski lift in South Korea? Or that I'd be taught how bees make honey from a Vietnamese man in the Pyrenees?

Who would ever guess that nearly going blind in my left eye would turn out to be a positive memory and an authentic example of Spanish kindness and generosity? Not only did the woman leave work to guide me across the city, but because I was a tourist, the doctor charged me half price.

In my daydreaming state, I missed the second half of the flight. Over dinner with the family the next day, the questions came. And I answered confidently "I have no idea, but I'm dying to find out."

Summit to Osaka

Across the path, I walked with my pack stuffed full. Steam poured out from the red panelled room. I opened the door. The smell of fresh fluffy cotton welcomed my nose. My fingers began to thaw. I could finally feel my toes. Another laundry day in keystone. My last hours of freedom before a week of work.

Before leaving on Friday, my manager stopped me. "Hey Tyler, you mind stepping into my office?" he said, waving me in. "Hey, what's up?" I asked. Well, you've done nothing but great things for us since you got here, and we'd like to keep you on the team year-round if you're interested." I didn't know what to say. "Wow, I'm flattered. Can I have some time to think about it?" I asked. "Yeah, take your time. Enjoy your weekend." He said.

That night, I tossed and turned. Throughout the next two days, I was consumed. I'd returned to Keystone Colorado to save money for a season, and then continue on to something new. I'd been daydreaming of snowboarding. And I wanted to test a theory that place isn't important, it's what you do that matters.

In six weeks since arrival, I'd enjoyed the possibilities of my four days on three days off schedule. I'd taken a trip to the desert and explored Denver. During the holiday rush, work was crazy, but since then, my shifts as an on-call delivery/maintenance guy had turned into paid reading and writing. I finally felt like myself around the team. I was beginning to fit in.

The money wasn't great, but it was more than enough to eat healthy with some left over to save. Then of course, there was the allure of "mud season" and "summer" of which the veteran guys referred to as a time where "I once went two weeks without a single call". More paid time to read and write, and in the crisp summer mountain sun. How could I pass that up?

I told myself to take the opportunity "it's the smart thing to do." But then came even more anxiety. "What if I meet a girl?" "What if I inherit a friend group?" “What if I get comfortable?” "What if I plant roots?" "What if I stop asking questions?" "There's so much more I want to do."

Distraught, with my fingers only half thawed, I unloaded the crumpled long johns and mismatch socks. I dropped a handful. As it hit the ground, a weird clapping sound rung out. My travel wallet and passport stared at me from the floor.

DEN-KIX April 4th

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I hate winter

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As a Central Texas kid, nothing excited me more than the prospect of snow. Sure, we got an occasional January chill. Even a light dusting a couple of times. But those brief encounters with winter only ever left me wanting more.

I liked sweaters and fires, and I fantasized about wandering through frozen forests. But, as I sit here, in the dead of it, watching the white wind whip through the trees, I have to admit, I hate winter.

Sure, I could go snowboard, but with the wind chill, it feels like negative five. I could go to a café, but that would mean unburying my car and potentially losing a finger while scrapping off the ice. So instead, I’ve decided to stay in write.

No, it isn’t always this cold, but then again, the snow isn’t always white. During warmer stretches, the town is a mess. Snow becomes a brown mixture of mud, oil, and slush. It seeps through your boots. Don’t even think about wearing non-water proof shoes.

The sun sets early. And the shadows take over shortly after noon. I go into work at 2pm, and stay ‘till midnight when the sky is pitch black, and the temps make my skin crack.

Grungy bars and breweries are the only opportunities to socialize. But it doesn’t take long for that scene to get old. Which is why people choose to stay inside.

With the cold come the cravings. My stomach’s never satisfied. From oatmeal to soup, warm sugary junk is often the only way to make it silent. At work I pound coffee, because when it’s cold and dark, I’m tired.

Some days, I love snowboarding, but with the crowds and the ice, it’s more frustrating than fun, most of the time.

This winter has been an opportunity to study and write. I’ve spent 22 days on my snowboard, and I’ve even snowshoed a few times. I’ve taken day trips to the city. And I’ve made a couple friends. It’s been an experience, battling these frigid temps.

Until two years ago, moving to the mountains had always been a dream of mine. These days, I find myself dreaming of a place that’s warm and bright.

Trying: "True" Wireless Earbuds


For three weeks, I suffered through the nuisance of listening to music through only one ear after my right bud quit producing sound. Sure, I still had my over ears, but they're not practical to carry around. I'm not someone to splurge on things. Gone are my days of shopping sprees. But when I do make a purchase, I look for quality more than anything. Buying cheap means buying to replace, and I like music and podcasts too much to be stranded without.

The first week, I researched. My Google news feed is still littered with articles like "best true wireless headphones 2018". Then, against my own judgement, I panicked at the price tags, and went with a cheap pair. The Rowkin Ascent Micro Wireless sell at Best Buy for 99.99. I found them refurbished on eBay for 59.99. After a $30 eBay coupon code, I snagged the budget buds for just 29.99.

I really wanted to like them. But they sucked. The sound was terrible, staticky and quiet, like normal earbuds at maybe 30%. Their build was cheap. And then, after just two days of miserable use, the left one quit working. I sent them back.

“Day ten without decent listening. Work has been stressful. I don’t even want to ride. I need music!”

I was feigning for a fix, but I remained patient and researched a bit a more. The Jabra Elite 65t's stood out to me. My over ears are Jabra Revos, and I've had them for nearly six years. So, when they went on sale, from 189.99-139.99, I decided to give them a try. With an additional 20%off for using my Amazon card, I got the buds for $111, delivered to my door. Three weeks in to ownership, here's what I have to say.

JABRA ELITE ACTIVE 65T REVIEW

They're comfortable, even after hours of constant wear. I don't listen to metal, but if I did, I'd feel confident head banging without losing them. The battery is said to last five hours, but I've never ran them past yellow. They pop into a conveniently sized case, with insanely fast charging speed. Their sound is nice and balanced. I'd say it's on par, or even superior to comparable buds with a wire. Which brings me to the most important thing, the freedom of wireless earbud technology. From yoga, to snowboarding, hiking, to cooking, cleaning, to writing, I've found the lack of wire on my Jabra Elite Active 65t's to be absolutely liberating.

Not only does music sound great, but podcasts come through clear as day. And in true Jabra fashion, the former headset company has produced another conversation capable earpiece. When a call comes through, all have to do is say “yes” to accept it. You can track them if they’re lost or stolen. And they’re dust and water resistant! The features are endless.

After three weeks of ownership, I love them, there's just one problem. They don’t work half the time! Okay, maybe it isn’t half the time, probably more like a quarter, but all too often, when I pop my Jabra Elite earbuds in, they get stuck on “connecting…”. I’ve noticed that the issue is more prevalent in congested areas. Trying to connect in the lift line? Forget about it.

I keep expecting there to be some software update to offer a fix, but I haven't been able to check, because the "Jabra sound+" app is completely useless. It connected the first day and hasn't recognized my earbuds since. It’s hard to call these things Elite, when at times, they’re nothing more than jewelry. Oh yeah, they're also discreet. But that doesn’t matter when they won’t produce sound! I have no doubt that these things will one day be awesome, but it seems to me that their current software just isn't quite ready yet.

So, if you're on the fence about wireless earbuds, I'm not quite sure what to say. On the one hand, my Jabra Elite Active 65t's are amazing, they're liberating, so much so that I can't see myself ever going back to the wire. But on the other hand, they're frustrating, less than reliable, and far from cheap. My guess is that these first-generation buds were rushed to compete with the likes of Apple's Pods, and that both their price and consistency will improve with time. I want to advise you to wait, it's the wise thing to do, but the freedom of these things (when working) is almost too good to be true. I could return them, but I'd rather listen while I wait. If only (slightly more than) half the time.

Trying: A year without TV

Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, Narcos, The League. I spent an entire month, January of 2016, doing absolutely nothing other than watching GOT. From reruns of SportsCenter as a kid, to whatever reality garbage was airing on MTV. The Bachelor in the evenings. Gold Rush on Friday nights. The Cowboys on Sundays. Saturdays were reserved for watching UT. In the summer, I’d watch baseball, about 100 games a season. I’d plan afternoons, days, even weekends around that screen.“We can’t go tomorrow; the game is on at noon.” “We have to be back before the show starts. Can we meet another time?”. Throughout my childhood, adolescence, as a teen. Through college, and the first year after, my life was dictated by TV.

And it’s just occurred to me, as I sit here in my empty employee housing living room. I’m on month 14 without a TV. This isn’t a post to say I’m better than you, or to talk about how much I read (not nearly enough). My goal isn’t to make you feel bad, but I have to say, there is a direct correlation with the satisfaction I’ve felt in life, and my time spent away from the screen.

It’s not that I’m constantly productive, because that just isn’t true. So, what’s changed, you say? Well for starters, I’m now free to take advantage of opportunity. If someone asks me to go for a hike, or to hit the slopes, I don’t think twice about some program or game. These days, I’m always available to go experience things.

What else, you ask? In my humble opinion, my life is a hell of a lot more interesting. Television is an escape. It’s a way to get away from reality. So, what happens when you give up the thing? Well, when I first took the plunge, I did a whole lot of nothing. Honestly, instead of reading or writing, or doing something else productive, when I first moved into Keystone employee housing, I spent a lot of time just sitting in silence and thinking. Was it healthy? I think so. Time to think is underrated. And it does get old. Which is around about the time I started doing things.

When I moved to Korea in February of ’18, I had my own tiny studio apartment with a small flat screen. For the first few weeks I didn’t even bother to turn it on. And it wasn’t until I really started feeling lonely that I began watching again. Returning to the screen only made it worse. It signaled the end.

In Alaska, not only did I not have TV, I didn’t have cell service either. After returning from Korea, I didn’t feel like setting up a plan. How’d I fill my time? I read, but not a ton. I hiked, but not enough. I worked, but only about 30 hours a week. And with the other endless hours of sun, I conversed. I met people. I routinely had in depth conversations. I stopped asking people “what’s up” and started discussing with them why they felt down. I got to know people. I became exposed to things. I set a goal. I started writing, every day.

After Alaska, I spend 6 weeks in Europe. Again, without service on my phone. The French families I stayed with didn’t watch TV, it was really refreshing. A lifetime living room diner, I learned to sit at the table and appreciate food. On nice days, we’d haul the table out into the lawn to dine and laugh in the sun.

45 days on the road concluded with ten at home. During which, I didn’t watch a single thing. I thought maybe it’d be nice to relax one day, but I had far too much writing to do. When it came time to leave for another season in Colorado, I considered loading my massive 4k TV into the backseat, but I thought better of it. I don’t need the thing. So, I’m placing it for sale. It’s a 55" LG with smart features. If anyone’s interested, message me.

Trying: Film/ $1 per photo

I woke up and peaked outside. Still dark. I was up editing past midnight. I needed more sleep. But then, I noticed that flashing green light.

The white screen of my phone shocked my eyes. The email icon displayed. "Probably junk I thought". I was right. “20% off at Old Navy”. I unsubscribed. 

Before laying the phone back down, I checked my spam. At the top, unopened, "the dark room lab" read. Again, I clicked open, and began to scroll through my scans.

A roll from Moab from last month, and the one from those two November days in New York City. Each representing an end of the spectrum of my love hate relationship with film photography.I was about three weeks in to my summer in Alaska, when my Sony A7 failed on me. Purchased in July of 2016, the thousand-dollar mirrorless camera quit reading cards. Likely from my days of frequent editing, my best guess is that popping cards in and out exhausted the thing. But, in any case, I was frustrated with the failure. And being in Alaska, I found myself in a difficult situation.

I could have sent the camera off for repair, but from what I read, I was facing at least a 300-dollar repair. And even more disheartening than a bill was the idea of being without a camera in such a beautiful place, for an extended period of time.

I'd liked the idea of regressing to an old SLR camera for quite some time. The utilitarianism of it. The lack of manipulation. It seemed pure. So, instead of spending time and money on having my Sony repaired, I ordered an old Nikon F3 ($399) with USA NAVY engraved in its base.

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With a pack of Porta 400 film (5rolls for $50), and a 50mm Nikkor f1.4 lens ($200), about a week later, the camera arrived. In my dimly lit employee housing bunk, I attached the lens without problem, but then came the adventure of loading the film. I watched a YouTube video on the subject, and within five minutes, I was ready to fire.

I rushed out onto the deck outside my room and began peaking at the scene through the viewfinder. That's when it occurred to me. There was no way for me to review what I'd seen. Yes, I know, it's ridiculous that I hadn't realized. In my defense, I was prepared to wait for the film to be developed, but I guess I thought there'd be some sort or preview screen? The revelation was... well... eye-opening, and this potential issue manifested itself during my first field outing with the F3.

As I boarded the park bus, I took the back seat. I like to have a full view of the scene. And as we bounced through the daylight, the couple in front of me caught my eye. Her flowing white hair, flapping in the breeze, the stripes on his shirt, mixed with those striped of light. The metal canopy of the bus. The blurred trees.

My first photo on film.

My first photo on film.

I held up my camera and attempted to focus. Made easy by the buttery smooth focus ring. Although, I did find myself wishing for the focus peaking feature of my Sony. I fired. The camera produced a soft, satisfying clap.

But, had the photo been achieved? The anxiety of the unknown got the best of me. I held up the camera again and repeated.

Over the course of the next couple weeks, I shot my camera regularly. I'd decided that since this was the first roll, I wasn't going to be too selective, opting instead to be experimental and to finish the roll quickly.

Another trip the park, some shots around town, and a few attempted portraits rounded out roll 1.

After some research online, I settled on the dark room lab, printed the label, and sent off the film. Developing and digital scans ran me $11, but then I paid an extra $4 to get "enhanced scans", which brought my total to $15. At the time, I declined the prints for another $5, a option I’ve since adopted. Given that film is about ten dollars per roll, and that you get about 36 shots per, as I waited to receive my first developed order, I realized that this new venture would cost me about $1 per photo.

About a week later, I received the email. My photos were available to view.

The first roll arrives.

The first roll arrives.

It hadn't been long since I'd finished the roll, but as I scrolled through, I found it exciting to remember each time I'd pressed the shutter. As for the quality? There were definite issues. Most were underexposed. Several we're out of focus. The ones in motion were blurred. But a few photos showed real signs of hope.

I reloaded the camera and set out again. I finished the second roll in no time, and then moved on to the third.

Portra is for portraits.

Portra is for portraits.

A road trip to Fairbanks, a hike, some wildlife, and a two week stretch of blue sky. I couldn't wait to see roll three. But, when I went to wind it for extraction, something happened.

At first the lever stuck, and then the film began to rip inside. I popped the cover open on instinct to have a look. It wasn't until later, that I realized. The afternoon sun had claimed every photo I'd taken in roll three.

I could have given up on film right then and there. Maybe I should have. But I loaded the camera again, and vowed to never repeat the mistake. Three weeks later I scrolled through roll 4. The results? Still some out of focus, but only a couple, and the exposure was consistently good. For the first time ever, and several times in fact, I'd captured exactly what I'd seen.

I was elated, but then again, my rollercoaster relationship with film photography took a dive.

I loaded my fifth roll sometime in mid-late July. In Denali National Park, summer had finally hit full stride. Bright, blue days, yellow rays, warmth, and a plethora of wildlife. My mom came to visit, and we took the eight-hour trip to Eielson station. It was quite a ride.

Grizzlies, everywhere, caribou, an eagle. On the first stretch of the trip, we saw more wildlife than most people see in a lifetime. At Eielson, Denali dominated the skyline. I captured a picnic on a mossy mountainside.

The fourth roll was good but roll five promised to be amazing. I saved the last photo for a portrait at the post office of me sending it off. I had my mom press shutter, and she handed the camera over to me to advance it. But instead of hitting the end of the roll, the lever pushed right through. "Okay, another try" I said. It appeared I'd squeezed out an extra photo. No resistance again. The panic set in.

The guy at the local camera shop used his dark room to investigate my issue. And when he returned from the back, he presented me with a pristine roll of film. I hadn't loaded it properly. It'd come unwound. None of those photos were recorded. I was devastated.

For a few days, I put the camera away. But then, the leaves began to change.

I finished two more rolls of film in Alaska before my summer job came to an end. And I carried that momentum into five more successful rolls through Europe.

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Which brings me to the two I received today. The roll I shot in NYC is beautiful, but more importantly, when I view it, I'm transported through place and time. I remember how the air smelt as I held it in to keep still. I remember the sounds coming from every direction in the streets.

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In contrast, is the roll from Arches NP. I was really excited about this roll, and it just didn’t produce. Rather than my usual choice of Porta 400, with this roll, I strayed to porta 160, for the first time. The results? Not so great. Not horrible, but certainly a step back.

Some underexposed, a bit of blur, and a consistent muddy haze. At a dollar a photo, I need better than this. But then again, the NYC roll is a reminder of why I stick with it.

Shooting film can be an absolute nightmare. It can and has caused me great grief. It's the antithesis of consistency. But then again, there's an undeniable satisfaction that comes with using such a utilitarian mechanism. There's a deep personal nostalgia to it. It can and should be done without editing which makes it so much more authentic. It challenges me. It calls out my bullshit. It makes me think. In a digital world of filters, hdr, autofocus, and nearly limitless memory, film photography feels real. A dollar a photo it'll continue to be.

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Trying: Spotify 2018 Wrapped

I’ve been an anxious mess since I got here. I’m struggling to adapt to the confines, and I feel like I’m not cut out for this lifestyle. But then again, that’s all bullshit. I feel as if I want to do everything. As if I have to do it all, today, this minute. But, things happen in time. As I browsed Spotify for relief, “2018 wrapped” served to remind.

"Discovery at night" that track I looped just after she'd gone. A beautiful heartbreak, with notes of hope sprinkled in. "Broad shoulders" ft Chance the rapper. The one I listened to on repeat during those lonely days in Barcelona Spain. Zoetrope, by Joep Beving, a classical soundtrack to a simplistically analytical life. "Japan" by Famous Dex. My roommate in Alaska loved "trap". "These lyrics are shit." I told him. "trap music does not need lyrics." Blue said.

"Last train” by Dawn Golden. Another reminder of leaving. This time from le ferme. "Wake the dead" by Nassau, the one I looped to a Mediterranean breeze, alone, after saying “au revoir” to my Swiss friends.

"Sweet" by Cigarettes after sex. It used to make me think of her, and now I think of myself, slumped up against that wall, smoking a cigarette. Allessio Bax’ melody from my favorite movie of the year, “Call me by your name”.

"So, so pretty" LANY, a reminder to live, a reminder to see. "Closer still" Mutual Benefit, a soundtrack to an epic, the journey. Racing down the switchbacks, to it after a stressful shift. "Love it if we made it" the 1975, the way she made my heart beat. "Robbers" years later, still relevant. "Fireflight" by Hundred Waters, a blast of sunlight.

"Poles 1469" by Trippie Red and Takashi 6ix9ine, from those days of "whilin'". "Pretty thoughts" by Urban Flora, a comatose escape. "Clean", by The Japanese House, that band that opened for the 1975 three years ago at red rocks. I think of hiding from my cubicle at Schwab in that rooftop garden, staring out and longing toward the mountains, every time I listen to them.

"O" by Coldplay, that revolutionary piece. The song I played as I boarded the plane. "Weather" by Novo amor from when I was really feeling the isolation. "Peer-pressure score" by Jon Brian, from the soundtrack of "eternal Sunshine", that movie that changed my mind. "Midnight soul still remains" M83, the sound of meditation. "The night we met" Lord Huron. Why'd it have to end that way..."Sigh", by the Bilinda Brothers, a bit of defiance, a bit I excitement, a but if what it was like to be with her. "Young live" Telepathic Tedd, the one I cranked up after racing home to write about our first kiss.

"On the 5" by Winetka Bowling League. After months away from Alt-Nation, this song played as I rode to the city from the airport on a sunny day with mom. Austin always has a song.

"Jamz" by Sales, a rhythmic riff of summer sun. "The rains" by Henry Jamison, the song that played over the crunchy forest, the shouting kids, and my shower drain. To that sense of adventure, that was so undeniably lonely. "I don't wanna love you anymore" LANY, when I knew we'd reached an end. "Dunno" by Mac Miller. What a tragedy it was to lose him. "Elysium" Bears Den, still my anthem to escape. A vocal liberation.

"Lazy afternoon" by Rebolution, I used to blast it in my Korean shower, and sing. "LSD" by ASAP Rocky, sometimes music is even more intoxicating. "Crash" by Skizzy Mars. That song I found on a flight to San Francisco in the summer of '16. "Current location" by LANY. Why are we always in the wrong place? "Sesame syrup" Cigs after sex. "I've had a long list of lovers, but none of them mattered to me except you."

"Stuff we did" Micheal Giacchino. She left, and it's desolate. But how lucky I was to have felt. "Spotless mind" island. "What's this? A spark"? "What if I never asked you your name..." I'm so glad I did. "weather" by Novo amor, as I roamed those lonely, Daejeon streets. Cigarettes after sex, in Paris..."How I'd love to go to Paris again".

 "Some kind of drug" after leaving after she'd left me. The intoxication of her touch as we just kissed. "Barricade (matter of fact)" by Yumi Zouma, that infinite dose of positivity. "Half the world away", my source of writing during a deeply nostalgic period, across the sea. "You left me" by Croquet Club, an upbeat update to a classic Melody. Used to write, and to roam streets.

Patrick Doyle's "the great secret" while watching the sun set from the chateau balcony. "I don't wear glasses" for contemplating, by Brique a Braq."Dead island trailer theme" by Giles Lamb, for another level of deep. “Altered state of mind” by Milmine as I watched the smoke dance, from the end of that Pyrenees spliff.

 “The woods”, by Hollow Coves, as I fantasized about a winter in a little old ski town ASAP forever, in an Alaskan summer Haze. “Meeting points at 2am" by dné from when I felt it for the second time.  "In my dreams" by Jutes, a dreamy escape. “Young and Dumb” CAF. We had so much fun.

 "TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME" is this Drake? No, the 1975.

"Homeless" a hiking tune, by Del Water Gap. "Shae" by Chase Huglin, for thinking about Colorado as I walked down the switchbacks. "Lying and Loving" by Electris Mantis, for those days of bombing on the snowboard. "The ghost on the shore" by Lord Huron, she'd gone, things slowed down. "Penny Jane" by Angus Maude. Thinking of her from France. "Promise" by Ben Howard, from that day in the clouds, a return to cold and rain. "VHS" by Super Duper, audible caffeine. "Rill Rill" by the Sleigh bells. Marching through foreign cities.

 "The 1975" by the 1975, the intro track of all three of their albums, an intro track to life. "You and me" by Shallou, a mellow afternoon laying in the hammock, from the billboard, in the Alaskan sunshine. “Patience” the most important thing.

For so long, I've wished Spotify to create a calendar of my music, so that I can look back at any date and use the tunes I listened to to remember it. But the monumental ones, the top tracks, do just that. What a year it’s been.

TOP SONGS 2018 PLAYLIST

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Superfood Harvest bowl

Last night I rolled into town, nourished only by two bags of peanuts, and a hotel breakfast. Wendy's the night before. I never eat fast food. Two long days of hiking and bad sleep. The trip was great, but I was feeling susceptible to a cold, or the flu. 

It'd been two weeks since I'd gone shopping, when I left, the pantry was empty. I ate a "Cheeba hut" sub before going in to city market. I had a list. It was mainly produce.

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I stocked up on two rolls of Camembert cheese. Splurged on dark chocolate. Picked up a sleeping mask. Then returned home to call it a day. As I unpacked my many bags, I realized that it wouldn’t all fit, in the refrigerator I share with three others. I oiled a pan with coconut butter, then began chopping and adding the mixture. 

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Chopped cauliflower, whole jalapenos, stalks of broccoli, leaves of kale, fresh green beans, whole carrots, whole mushrooms, chopped garlic, sliced onion, chunks of acorn squash,and quarters of green apple, and two cans of chick peas. I put the oven on 375, and slid the pan in. My roommate supplied the wine, a rich zinfandel from California. I offered a plate of cacao chocolate, orange slices, and Camembert cheese. 

An hour and a half later, I remembered the vegetables. They had roasted perfectly. 

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I "sampled" by the handful, as I packed them away. 

This morning, I woke up feeling full. Drank a coffee, added a banana and a small square of cacao before sitting down to write. A couple hours later, I had an egg and another coffee, and the ideas began to flow. Then, I looked out my window about an hour ago, and saw the snow. 

Before heading out, I filled a bowl with last night's ingredients. On top, a laid an over-medium egg. I think I'll add avocado and Kimchi when I do it next.

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Far Eastern Huevos Rancheros

December 5th, 2018

I planned to read a chapter and add a photo. I read through the whole thing, again. Breakfast of almond butter and a small piece of dark chocolate was no longer sustaining me. Suddenly I was famished, as I shook an empty cup of cold brew coffee. I rushed to the kitchen and slapped a pan on the burner. Cranked it up to ten. Dropped a scoop of coconut butter in. Chopped up a fresh clove of garlic. Savored a thin slice of Camembert cheese for calories to work.

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Tossed the garlic in with thick layers of sliced red onion. The aromas began to melt. “What else can I add?” I checked the fridge again. I sliced three cherry tomatoes in half, my last. Also, that jalapeno from the cabinet. I left the seeds in. I added another chunk of coconut butter, let it simmer, then dumped the entire can of black beans in.

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I failed to drain them enough, the mixture stewed in a black liquid. I found that Quinoa mix I’d been given for free, and sprinkled a bit in. Sure, some carbs, but fiber too. Let it all simmer for about five more minutes. Started the egg on an adjacent pan. Added the Kimchi and made the flip. I dumped the mixture into a bowl, and draped the egg overtop. Placed the avocado on the side, ran a chopstick through it, let it drip. Then, that taste. There’s still a bit left in the pan… seconds?

 Ingredients:

  • Coconut butter

  • Garlic

  • Red onion

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Jalepeno

  • Quinoa

  • Kimchi

  • Egg

Food Facts:

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Moose-Aka's

Once through the boundaries of the 6-million-acre Denali National Park, the only food you’ll find is wild. At its entrance, you’ll find a diner. And along the Denali highway, were I live, you’ll find the only other options.

Eleven miles from the tiny town of Healy, with only two restaurants of its own, and two hours from the nearest actual town, Fairbanks, my isolated home of the past two months offers very few options. With no movie theater, and no real store, the small village serves tourists from May-September, and lies dormant the rest of the year.

During my time here, I’ve embraced the little things, such as time spent with friends, and beautiful views, but all the while, I’ve craved a good meal.

Tucked in between one of three places to purchase souvenirs, and the lone outdoor retail shop, from its eclectic façade, which displays “Beer” and “Brunch”, Moos-Aka’s (pronounced moose-awk-ughs) has always looked interesting, but until this morning, I’d never passed through its Ivy framed door.  

As my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit dining room, empty at 11:13 am, and the strange music met my ears, suddenly I felt as if I’d traversed the globe. Sat in the last seat on the right, propped up by a dark leather booth, I browsed the walls, and the menu, in fascination.

Obstructing my view of the delicately woven umbrellas which hung from the ceiling, the waiter approached with coffee.

Served on a slab of charred mahogany, in a small smelting pot which looked as if it were stolen from the set of “Game of Thrones”, I poured my first espresso sized cup of gritty black Turkish coffee under the copper light of an Edison bulb, and began to write. With no sugar, or cream, the robust flavor of dark beans, in their purest form, put even the most premium cold brew to shame.

Half-way through my essay, the coffee kicked in. With a caffeine content akin to five shots of espresso I expected to hit my stride, but instead I found myself again, curiously inspecting the menu.

Amongst several types of Crepes, both “French” and “Flash Fried”, “Moussaka”, and “Stuffed peppers”, my watering mouth settled on “The Captain Cook”.

“These take time, as care is put into each one.” a small note at the bottom of the menu prefaced, yet not ten minutes later, the 10x10 plate was served.

A rich flaky ham, so savory I regretted ever attempting a Pescatarian Diet, creamy chunks of magnificently melted Gouda cheese, a perfect pesto glaze, crunchy ripe ropes of red onion, a freshly fried egg, and a generous serving of creamy green avocado, all wrapped in a silk blanket of warm pita. On their own, any one of these ingredients would have satisfied, but wrapped together, each bite was a revolution.

With my curser flashing at me from across the table, as I scooped at the plate for any left-over crumbs, then returned to the keys. Now on my second pot, and approaching my fourth hour, I’m sipping slower, with no immediate plans to leave.  Perhaps I’ll stay for dinner.

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/Mooseakas

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The comforts of home

I planned to write, I really did. But instead, I once again found a way to waste a morning . For months I've routinely begun my days around sunrise, but today, my second day back home, I opened my eyes around nine.

Then, still determined to write, at a sluggish pace I showered, ate some almond yogurt, and brewed some coffee. By 10:15 I was at my desk, with an empty word doc in front of me, but the cursor failed to move. For minutes I sat, staring blankly at the flashing line, finally interrupted as Charlie stumbled in.

With a long stretch he slid his paws down my shin, inviting me to come join him on the adjacent sofa. Suddenly I felt exhausted. “Hmm, perhaps I will lay down for a moment.”

One hour later and there I was, again staring blankly at a screen. I'd gone through a few games of "words with friends" and browsed through my news feed, but now my thumbs lay idle on the empty home screen, perhaps trying to cover the reality of how much time had passed. At eleven a.m. I began writing this. And after an additional two hour hiatus, I sat back down to finish.

Far off from my originally proposed topic of adventure, this topic is in fact its antithesis. For nine months of 2017, this was my routine. I'd sleep till mid morning, but never really wake up, stare at blank screens, and waste countless hours of time. Surrounded by the comforts of home, I often spent my days in deep thought, dreaming up adventures and ideas, and never making any progress toward them. But coming off of three straight months of challenges and new experience, I now see how limiting this life can be.

Unlike my last move home, this one has a clear deadline. In less than five days I’ll board a plane to South Korea. I'm terrified, and excited, and can't wait to depart, because in those moments void of comfort, the sun shines a little brighter, it’s warmth is a little softer, and each breathe is a little more cherished.

Captured

A single log burned in the living room fireplace, despite an unseasonably warm morning outside. The tree was lit with bright white bulbs, and around it we sat, unwrapping gifts in between bites of fresh warm cinnamon rolls. Now on my 20th Christmas, the familiar feelings of excitement and joy had diluted down to a slight intrigue. A sweater, a card, these were the gifts that now hid under the tree. With one box left, I gently unwrapped its shiny gold paper, attempting to delay the last surprise of the day. But as I untucked one side, and caught my first glimpse of what lay before me, an overwhelming sense of excitement through me back in time.

The pasta was bland, and the music was loud, but as I roamed the banquet room at my Uncle Bill’s wedding, I kept myself entertained by making use of the many disposable cameras scattered throughout. At age seven, I had no idea what I was doing, or even why, but for some reason, it just felt right. Glimpses of cake, the dancefloor, and of other random snippets filled up the rolls, as I went from one camera to the next, eventually succumbing to a cake induced slumber.

After that first introduction to life through a lens, my interest went dormant. Still only a kid, and not yet to the era of affordable cameras, the activity was all too easily forgotten. Aside from the occasional disposable Kodak on a family trip, I never touched a camera, but then came 2005. Entering my first year of Middle school, my parents decided to gift me my very first cell phone. With a limited number of minutes, and no texting plan, it was primarily to be used for emergencies, but the low res digital camera on its rear sparked an interest long forgotten.

In 2009 I got my first smartphone, and as those camera’s evolved, my photo gallery grew exponentially. From sunsets, to reminders of trips, I was finally beginning to explore that old passion. But Christmas morning in 2014 changed everything. After that first peak, I ripped the box free of wrapping in one single tear, finally revealing my very first camera.

It took me a while to really get going, as the initial learning curve of an actual camera proved to be quite daunting compared to my point and shoot smartphone. And it wasn’t until I moved to Denver a year later that I really began shooting consistently. But, in the two years since then, I’ve become absolutely infatuated with the art of photography. The way it encourages me to appreciate my surroundings, the feeling I get when I capture a moment, the challenge it represents for me to pursue, the nostalgia I feel when I flip through my gallery, the confidence it gives me to share with the world, and the many simple reminders to just enjoy the view.

Still by no means an expert, today I shoot entirely manual, and routinely misfire. At times I'm frustrated by the weight of my pack that I lug with me everywhere, and I struggle to suppress the urge to shoot in inappropriate times, but there's no doubt in my mind that I've captured an obsession for life.

"From here, it's possible"

This morning I received a disheartening email. After four stressful months of pleading my case to various departments and representatives, my request for a backdated withdrawal was denied. Blatantly mislead by the university's Student Business Services department to believe that my already accepted financial aid package would cover my tuition, and then left to find out that it was rescinded for no apparent reason in week three of the fall semester; three weeks after my withdrawal, I received a $700 bill.

Throughout this lengthy process of dispute, I've grown increasingly agitated with my alma mater, going as far as to wish their sports teams ill will. Once an avid fan of Red Raider football, I didn't watch a single game this season. And as the months of this dispute have drawn on, much of my old “double t” memorabilia has found the bottom of my trash bin. The stickers on my snowboard, the t shirts I used to wear on game days, all gone.

But today, as I strummed a tune on my roommates guitar, after reaching an agreement for a payment plan, I briefly slipped back to the living room of 3824 Erskine st Apt 74. The place where I learned to play guitar, the place where I made several lifelong friendships, this apartment, and two others were once called home.

For months I've cursed everything related to Texas Tech, loathing my decision to waste time and money, wishing I could somehow go back and do it different. But, as I picked those strings a rush of memories poured in.

That time we stormed the football field after an upset victory, those nights we spent roaming campus, the glory of it all covered in snow, the friendships, the heartbreaks, the relief of the grades, the last minute trips to the mountains, the freedom of the West Texas roads, the excitement I felt to begin that journey, the confidence I built to take on the world, the late night study sessions that ended in success, the intramural games that weren't always so, my first taste of independence, and the many perfect sunsets.

It can be easy to discount or even discourage the past. To look back and think you wasted time or money, to think you would have been better off doing something else. But, without the past there would be no present. My time at Texas Tech University has left me with student loan debt, and a degree I may never directly use, but more important than those things, I'm left with so many priceless memories and this wonderful present so lush with opportunity.

Charlie got Chickenpox

*Written to the sound of Half the World Away by “Music Lab Collective”*

11/07/2017

Okay, well it wasn’t exactly Chickenpox, but for three straight days, Charlie itched relentlessly at a body wide rash. The result of a food allergy caused by an attempted switch to a healthier option (of course he prefers junk food), Charlie’s rash was nothing too serious. But in order to keep him from scratching away like some Chickenpox clad toddler, I never let him out of my sight.

I have to admit, the obligation of babysitter wasn’t one that I initially welcomed, but as I pack my bags today I’m realizing just how valuable those memories of petting my old pal with a book rested on his back, may soon come to be.

You see, in just five days, I move West, into the Rocky Mountains, and from there, further West until it becomes East. And while I didn’t plan to end up back in Central Texas the last two times I moved away, this time feels just a little more final. Which is why those three days with Charlie will always be cherished.

We got Charlie in the fall of 2008. A rescue of unknown breed, or age, we had no idea what to expect from the little guy. But it didn’t take long for his small stature to become a large fixture in our family. Sure, there was that time when he pissed on my shoe, or the time, when he literally ate my homework, but even in his most trying moments, I can’t say I’ve ever truly been angry at him.

Before Charlie, I didn’t much care for smaller breeds, as I found them to be excessively yappy and overall obnoxious, but he’s changed my mind entirely. Unlike more openly friendly, and consistently happy dogs, Charlie makes you earn his trust. At just 12 pounds (he prefers the term husky), he’s understandably hesitant with strangers, and his shrill bark is far from pleasant. But once you’ve put in the hours, he’s an endless source of amusement and joy.

From hysterical fits, to lengthy games of living room fetch, and even the occasional hike. Through breakups, and makeups, and now through goodbyes, for the past nine years, Charlie has been my closest companion.

Leaving home means I’ll likely miss out on years of Charlie’s life, but as much as that pains me, I’m determined not to miss out on my own. Some say when one door opens, another one closes, but no matter where life takes me, I’ll never close the door on Charlie. To the smallest dog with the biggest personality. The one with more names than I can count. To my best friend, my brother, and the coolest dog I know. Take care Chuck.

P.s. Go easy on the snacks.

"I" before JR"E"

My phone, face down, just inches from my pillow, quietly emits the familiar into track. “Train by day, Joe Rogan Podcast by night”. It’s a motto to live by.

I first stumbled across the podcast at the end of one of those exhausted YouTube ques that I always seem to mention. And since discovering the convenience of streaming its audio form, I’ve become a regular listener.

Over the course of the last nine months or so, I’ve been exposed to a plethora of well varied thoughts, ideas, and topics. And while I find myself agreeing to much of what Joe says and thinks on the air, I try to maintain a healthy criticism of his statements. Which is why I’m writing.

I believe “The Joe Rogan Experience” or “JRE” is a wonderful source of media, that has personally helped me to act on ideas (Ep #405), to be more understanding of others (Ep #820), and to avoid the constant threat of conformity (Ep #939 ).

But, as with any source of media, his podcast should be considered with caution. Not because of a lack of truth, or because of Joe’s sometimes crude or uncomfortable use of diction, but because even it can become a bit too familiar at times.

Now, before “you fucks”(sorry grandma) start to lose it on me, let me first clarify that I say this not to offend, but to reaffirm the idea that no one man or woman’s opinion should be treated as fact; but instead should be considered as only part of your own understandings and truths.

In today’s world of “smart” (phones, tv’s watches, etc…), the average member of the technologically advanced world is constantly inundated with data. From "shares" on Facebook, “‘snaps” on Snapchat, “retweets” on Twitter, and "likes" on Instagram, to “‘breaking news” alerts on CNN, email "reminders" in Gmail, and “unread messages” in Messenger. But because we choose our apps, our “friends” and “followers”, and our news sites, it can be easy to hear only what we want to hear.

And while the truth is more accessible than ever, it’s still up to us to find it. This is in many ways, an analogy for the JRE itself. Joe's teachings, and those of his guests, should be taken as introductions, that should then be researched and considered independently before conclusions are drawn.

Listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast has reminded me to be myself, it’s motivated me to be more active, and most importantly, through his own story of success, and those of his creative guests, it has inspired me to be relentless in the pursuit of my passions.

It’s a show that explores a variety of topics from a variety of sources. It’s an entertaining and informative source of media that can be conveniently streamed free of charge. It’s a pleasant addition to long commutes, sleepless nights, and even workouts. It’s “The Joe Rogan Podcast, Check it Out”.

 

A few of my favorites:

  • #906

  • #975

  • #913

  • #883

  • #877

  • #614

  • the three above

Fanatics

Last night, an incredible New York Yankees season, that included the emergence of several young stars, a comeback mentality, and a genuine appreciation of the game, came to an abrupt end. And while it still stung a bit to watch the Astros celebrate a trip to the World Series, I’ve never found it this easy to move on.

Dig up any old notebook or binder of mine, and you’ll likely find a crudely drawn “NY” carved into its cover. Find any old photo or t shirt, and I’ll bet you’ll find the logo there too. Despite being born and raised in Central Texas, I’ve rooted for the New York Yankees for as long as I can remember. Not because they were the best, or because my father’s side of the family originated from the New York area, but because he liked them, and so I did too.

But recently I’ve begun to see fanhood for what it is. From setting my television volume to “27” as the Yankees chased their 27th World Series Championship in 2009. To literally praying for them to win it all, my lifelong obsession with the Yankees has led me to try several truly silly and ineffective ways to influence their games. And while they did eventually hoist a trophy at the end of that 2009 campaign, I can now say with confidence, that my residual loss of hearing thereafter had no effect on this outcome.

As a fan of baseball, or any sport for that matter, it can be easy to fall into the delusions of control. But, ultimately, you have none. Baseball is played on a field, with 9 men on each side. And while the excitement of the crowd has been known to help bolster the spirits of these men, the outcomes of the games ultimately comes down to their successes and failures, not yours.

Some say our lives our chosen for us, others say we make our own. But regardless of your beliefs, life requires action. And while it may feel like you’re doing something when you watch “your” team(s), staring at a screen for hours isn’t exactly action.

As citizens of the freest nation on the planet, our lives our filled with choice. Sure, some have more than others, but we all have the opportunity to influence our own existence is some way.

So am I suggesting that we all abandon sports? Not at all. But, I think it’s important that we learn to put them in perspective. So watch that game, share that joy, and maybe even feel some defeat. But when it’s all said and done, know that their successes are not yours, and their failures aren’t either. Because true satisfaction cannot be purchased, gifted, or witnessed. True satisfaction comes only from fulfilling those desires within.

You can waste a lifetime watching the lives of others, or you can make it your own.

 

“Fan” short for “Fanatic”

Fanatic- a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.