Saturday, February 9, 2013

Filling in Life's Gaps

Did you know that more than half of all blogs do not survive longer than their first post? I don't have a credible source to actually cite that statistic, but I look though Google Reader at all of the blogs that I used to follow, and most of them have not been updated in six months or longer. Although I haven't written in a few months, I hope to start posting more and more once I have finished the final semester of my graduate studies.
Two Medicine Lake - This is where Geoff and I will be camping our first night
Although I will have to wait until August to go on my trip to Glacier National Park, for more than five months now I have been planning with my buddy Geoff, and have gotten so excited about it that the very thought of going is what finally pushed me to write another post again. I was going to write about the planning process, but instead want to write about what has helped me get through the last 2.5 years of graduate school since I am now in my final semester.
St. Mary's Lake is where we will be camping our last night of our  3 day/4 night trip
It takes a good amount of work and dedication to plan a backpacking trip, and even more dedication to actually carry it out. To drive a full day in order to spend three days hiking and sleeping on the ground is not for everyone, and that's o.k. Such a reqirement is a great vetting of those who enjoy the outdoors, and those who are dedicated to exploration and experiences which may very well alter their own lives. It is through our own experiences that we form and shape our personalities and interests, and it is thanks to our memories that we pursue additional adventures. It is the thought of fly fishing with my father when I was younger which keeps me continuously pushing for more trips. It was the bliss I found at my family's cabin in Pinecrest, CA which got me through a period of intense struggle while living in a foreign country - a great opportunity for growth when I was unable to communicate my thoughts and insights on life (which felt as though they would burst out of me), if only my tongue would have cooperated in my ideal time-frame.

The Teton Trip (aka, the trip that saved me) - this photo was taken from our campsite in the backcountry
of the Tetons. I honestly feel that my experience in graduate school would have been less
enjoyable was it not for this trip which then set off a chain of other trips I now look at
as stepping-stones that helped me get through two masters degrees.
The amazing trip to the Tetons with Geoff before starting my graduate studies helped push me through the last two and a half years of studies. This one trip lead Geoff and I to plan additional trips which then turned into stepping stones. I can now look back on the trips and see that they helped me get to where I now am in my graduate program. Could I have put my passion for the outdoors on the back-burner to then focus on my studies? Sure, but I can guarantee that doing so would have made the last two and a half years very dull and monotonous, and I probably wouldn't have been a very pleasant husband to be around. In fact, with my undergrad studies I did just that, and by the last two semesters I was so burned-out that my performance in school waned, and my GPA paid the ultimate price.

The second trip Geoff and I planned, this time to Canyonlands. It was here that we
both realized we would compare every subsequent adventure to our Teton trip.
I remember my buddy Ben who told me (while he was working on his PhD) that he had to get out to rock climb or go fly fishing or else he would burn out very quickly. I was surprised by this, as up to that point I assumed that in order to be a "good" student one must put all hobbies and passions aside in order to then focus on excelling. Now I understand that the adventures are what filled the gaps. Just like  how a small dash of salt in a recipe can be the difference between an excellent dish or something only worthy for the trashcan, so to does a little dash of one's passion mixed in with life's obligations and duties make the difference between success and failure, or enjoyment instead of simply enduring.

I am now able to see that this lesson is not only applicable to my schooling, and that I can use this throughout the rest of my life. I want to work hard to be successful for my family, but this isn't possible if I don't continue to tap into my passions and teach my sons the importance of exploring the outdoors, and discovering the world outside of our urban lives.

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