Every cloud has a silver lining

Had some thoughts while trekking Everest Base Camp that I thought might fit in on here.,

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As we reach the peak of the ridge just before Phortse drops out of sight, we hear the mournful wail of a conch being played, shortly joined by the droning of prayer being offered.  We look back and see a plume of smoke arising from a small hut in the village, jasmine incense burned by a monk and offered to the gods. The funeral for the Sherpa who died at Everest Base Camp is under way.

The tenuous hold each of us has on the safety line of life is brought fresh to my mind, as I turn away from the funeral and glance beyond my path winding around the mountain and view the monumental drop awaiting a single misstep. The fragility of life in all forms – hiking Everest, driving a car, eating unhealthy foods – weighs on me, although I do not so much fear for my own safety as for the pain and suffering my loss would bring those I love. This fragility, the very brevity of our time on this planet, of our limited time with each other, is cause for celebration – a sharing in time of each and every moment spent together. From daily routine, which tends to dull our adventurous sense and resign ourselves to rote and uninspiring duties, up to the moments we save ourselves for – vacation, retirement, completing our life goals – each day we have in this life is cause for celebration.

Life has an amazing way of replicating itself.  But, as you can see in the budding of a new young forest in the clearing caused by the felling of the ancient oak, the loss of a single life – indeed, nothing in this world – can be measured independently of the effect it has on everything around it.

Were it not for ugly breakups, which, measured on their own, cause much grief and heartache, I would not have struck out of my routine, getting into the habits and extensive travel that now define me more than anything from my former life/self. I would still be gazing out in fear and awe at the world, like when my brother first went white water rafting and I thought him insane(ly brave). Now I realize that few things are more difficult than they seem (this trek for example), and, taken one day at a time, you can accomplish more than your wildest dreams when your heart is in the right place.

Every cloud has its silver lining, a truer statement has never been spoken. It is what you do with the love, the emotion, and the inspiration from any such loss that truly determines the course of life and the end result of tragedy. Like the sun offers nourishment to the seeds lying dormant for so long beneath the oak, focus your energy on positives in your life and nurture them to grow and take new shape. Take your pain and loss and turn it into something great.  Help those less fortunate. Travel and learn something about those whom you don’t understand. Build a school. Donate to those who are already doing so. Start a project in a foreign country (or right at home!) to improve life for those who cannot improve life for themselves.

Foster positivity with all the negative things you are feeling. Foster life when you feel there has been a loss. Work sustainably to improve life on this planet in whatever way gives you release. Take your pain and invest it into a positive project, for yourself or others. Learn the ukelele. Help build an earthship. Volunteer at an orphanage or in the palliative care ward at a hospital. Spend time at the ocean. Exercise regularly. Eat well. Challenge yourself. Live somewhere new. Use your raw emotion as fuel to improve the state of the world, no matter how small in magnitude.

Your raw emotions give you power, but what you choose to do with that power could mean the difference between a tragedy and a miracle.

These are the waves that changed my life.

These are the waves that changed my life.

Ripples caused by disturbances in our lives, changing the course of life like a leaf drifting in a puddle or a boat changed course in a storm.  Pushing ever so gently but with the insistence of eternity.

Lying in a sea side villa on the fisherman’s pier, watching the light play brilliantly on the roof.  Pulsing, breathing with a life of its own.  Decisions made that changed not only the course of my life, but the course of my being.

Trying to compel order on such a phenomenon is fruitless, much like trying to compel order on the chaos of life.  There will always be unexpected circumstances, forks in the road, changes in plans.

The only way to forge through this is with a happy heart and an open mind.  All else will fall as it may, and you will come out on top.

Go with the flow, but keep your true happiness and aims in mind, whatever they may be.

Night falls.  I admire the stars above my head, then the galaxies of phosphoresence around my feet.  The enormity of the universe sets my mind free like the breath of fresh sea air in my lungs.

The FOMO Problem: Solved

You will never have it all. You cannot be in every place at once. That is a hard reality to accept.

But the best thing about that is there will always be something new to do, always someone new to meet, always another place to go. That means you never have an excuse to be bored for as long as you live…so get out there and explore 😉

In the meantime, enjoy where you are and what you are doing. You may not get that chance again.

Life is an ADVENTURE

Exhilarating.

I love life at a fast pace.  Countries zoom by, good friends become great.  Bonds shared, beers drank, challenges overcome, mountains climbed.

From one adventure to the next.

All experiences are fleeting, the only question is duration.  I move from one to the next and strive to glean what I can from each one, enjoying the company when it is there and the silence when it is not.  There will never be any reason for boredom or depression, for the next adventure is lurking around the corner and all you need to do is reach out and embrace it.

I feel my mind opening up, ready to embrace the beauty and creativity of my surroundings, feeding off this inspiration like a plant drinking in the sun’s rays.

I now pray to the powder gods : the epiphany of an Ontarian on a mountain

Freeride team

There are moments in life where you feel uplifted, where your usual connection of body and earth is severed, and a new world opens up in your consciousness that you perceive with senses born anew. A whole plane of existence that you couldn’t formerly imagine is suddenly interposed with your current self, and you know you will never be the same.

No longer will I satisfied with my feet trudging in the dirt of the earth, when my board can ride the powder of this mountain.

My first time riding the eternal standing waves of the earth happened at Revelstoke on Mt. Mackenzie, and it was just such an experience that made me re-evaluate what I had been up to thus far in life. Setting out on the hill with a solid riding crew, we headed straight for the top of the mountain and prepared ourselves for over an hour of shredding back down to the base of the mountain. With over a 6,000 foot vertical from base to peak, I had no idea what we were in for. The snow was like nothing I had ever seen before, piles of powder that would engulf your board and legs too if you weren’t careful! Surfing the snow like a wave, I could feel the powder shift under the weight of my board as it slid over and through two solid feet of the stuff. The surge of adrenaline and joy was comparable to few moments of bliss one can experience, that of dropping into your first wave while surfing or meeting your first crush on the dance floor. A little further down the hill, the trail opens up into a wide swath of powder, steeper than any hill I have been on in my life. My board cuts deep into the powder on the slope though, and I can manage with some bravery speeds well past what I have been comfortable with on any other hill. My board catches an edge and I am sent into a quick tumble on the hill, and although I recover and end up sitting down with my board aiming downhill, I find that my descent is not slowed much from when I am riding normally!

There are few places in the world you can meet happier people than Revelstoke. When chatting with strangers and asking how their day was, the answer was unanimous:”What couldn’t be good about it!?”The only thing I could think of to answer them is a fact that will haunt me whenever I am away from this glorious place: Nowhere else I will ever ride again will compare.

A full day of riding is something I can not normally handle, but on this heaven-mountain we could not stop flying down run after run, challenging ourselves like never before on the steep, fast runs and powder-filled glades. We rode hard right off the last black run of the day into a steep ravine cutting into the mountain. Nothing but fluffy powder awaited our eager boards, and my co-conspirator in this secret eden of snow gleefully plowed down to the bottom full speed, then cut almost as high up as he had started on the adjacent ridge. Bailing into a giant spray of powder and emerging unhurt and laughing, I decided it’s my turn to brave the depth of the mountain. Dropping in toe edge, I surprised myself with the deftness of my carves, cutting back and forth across a steeper ridge than I would ever have attempted before that day. Carving around trees left and right, a few calls too close for liking, I strayed a little far to the right before Jon called me to cut left back onto the run where everyone else is waiting. We navigated our winter paradise and emerged from the trees to find our happy group enjoying a short respite with the most spectacular view you could hope for. The range of the mountain was laid out before us, cradling lakes, rivers, and forests and the little paradise town of Revelstoke that man has etched out in this daunting environment.

I have been converted to a new religion…and any day the powder gods smile on the mountain is a day I want to be there. Until that time comes, thoughts of that sweet powder will linger on in my dreams, the elusive promise of enlightenment just a mountain away.

What is your goal in life?

Well that’s so simple I will tell you.  Your goal is to be HAPPY.

All other goals spring from that. ..relationships, career achievements, charity work, life accomplishments…all these stem from a desire to be happy. Some may say that the goal of happiness is implicit and obvious, and that we need more specific goals to achieve. I disagree…I think many of us get so caught up in our goals – that next promotion, winning that sport tournament, saving money for retirement (if you were crazy enough to work your whole life, you deserve a vacation at this point), etc. that we often lose sight of how the only reason we strive to achieve these goals is to increase our personal happiness. If we could only step back and acknowledge that, we could more accurately align our goals with what makes us truly happy.

Our desires change over time, and therefore so should our goals.  If you aren’t happy with what you are doing, don’t do it.  If you feel as if you are working towards a goal you no longer enjoy, stop. This will ensure you avoid that hollow feeling of accomplishment that follows so many mis-established goals.  You will always seek happiness, but having the courage to make the changes required to pursue is where the difficulty lies.

Everyone wants to be happy.  But happiness comes from different places for different people.  I consider these second level goals – the ideals you value that act as your roadmap to happiness.  Things like success, love, prestige, challenging yourself – these are all paths to happiness.  These in turn are attainable through third level goals – the physical action by which you will attain your second level goals.  For me personally, these goals include (among others): writing, travel, entrepreneurship, and being able to support my future family with an acceptable lifestyle.  Some of these goals may involve money, but never directly and thus emphasis should never fall on money itself.

Many people select their goals based on what they have been told will make them happy – earning lots of money, having a prestigious job, owning a house with a two car garage in the suburbs. Even charity work can be undertaken the wrong way, when you expect rewards and feelings that have nothing to do with your satisfaction, the realization of your gratitude for all that you were fortunate enough to have been given in your life.  But all of these things are a means to an end, the end being happiness and a life well lived. But if that was your aim from the get-go, you might realize that you don’t need a million dollars or a fancy car to attain it.