Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Crossroads

Recently I came across this fantastic essay. It ranks right up there with the top ten best things I have ever read. It seems like all my life I have struggled with Should and Must. It's why I never goofed off in the winters like the other Park Service seasonal employees. Instead I drove across the country to another job, never having a break in service, never taking unemployment. It's why I hung onto bad romances way too long. It's why I don't quit my job and write. I often wrestle with should, and other people's expectations, which can be a deep well you never climb out of. 

This weekend it snowed! I should  have gone to the gym. I should have cleaned the house. I shouldn't have eaten all those brownies. I should be selling all of my excess tents and backpacks.  I should have called up friends and made plans with  them. But..


It's snowing! Time to get to the mountains!
I decided to bolt. I caught a ride partway up Mount Howard with some backcountry skiers, and snowshoed the rest of the way to the wide, rolling summit at  8,150 feet.
In the summer this place swarms with tourists, killer chipmunks, and cute hang gliders. But today I had it mostly to myself. Here was all the snow I thought I had lost. Deep, powdery snow. Why do people complain about winter?
The Seven Devils--that's Idaho over there.
Mine were the first tracks to the Royal Purple Overlook.
I think I've written this before, but I never forget what a wise friend told me once. We were floating in our kayaks in Sitka Sound. The friend was making a go of it selling her art and picking up other odd jobs, a leap of faith I was unable to take. I was trying to get out of a bad romance. I was much younger and looking for answers. She said, "The first fifty years of my life were about pleasing other people. The next fifty will be about me."

You don't have to  be fifty to start. 

21 comments:

  1. Loved reading about your positive attitude... and what your doing with your life just found your blog...I follow john on my alaska life....

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  2. Oh lol forgot to give my name .... Bert from Bama

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    1. Hi Bert, I once did some prescribed burning in Bama and ended up with a "Bama Burners" T shirt. I am thinking it is the same Bama? At any rate, thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Read the essay....lots to think and dream about. No one ever regretted they didn't clean the house more! Glad you summitted Mt. Howard on such a glorious day. From what I know about your explorations and adventures, and writing, I would say you have found time for some excellent "musts" in the midst of "shoulds."

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    1. I still feel like the shoulds are winning!

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  5. Great essay! Thanks for sharing. I especially like the quote from your friend about the next fifty years of life. Now that my family is grown, I think I'll adopt that attitude!

    I'm jealous seeing all that lovely, powder snow! We got a couple of inches on Hood, but seeing this weekend's forecast I think I'll be hiking instead of skiing very soon.....

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    1. Yes here too, darn it. You can find good snow up high but you do have to work for it. Our poor ski area was only open for two weeks.

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  6. Thanks for sharing the essay. It doesn't even have to be a struggle within oneself. In my marriage, I feel like this is one of our biggest struggles. My husband, being the responsible one that highly values the opinion of others and fitting in is definitely Mr. Should. Myself, on the other hand, who always has felt out of place and weird, I'm totally comfortable following my heart as Mrs. Must. I think this is part of why we make such a good team, we balance well. :)

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    1. It helps when there's a Should to balance out the Must, I guess we can't all be Musts all the time. I kind of seesaw between both extremes. I can get really caught up in the Should and snarl at everyone. That's when I know I have to let the Must out.

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  7. Hi Mary, woulda, coulda, shoulda, that use to be me, but, hasn't been for years. Now I live it day by day. When I wake up, that's when I decide what to do that day. I do have one goal and that is to be completely moved into my remote cabin by next Winter. Would you send some snow my way? It's raining right now.

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    1. I want a remote cabin! If I had more snow to send, I would. It's back to high pressure. Maybe next week!

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  8. I love stopping by your blog! I especially appreciated the advice at the end! Yes...its time to start pleasing myself, not everyone else! Thanks for that!!

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    1. Thanks Jayne! It is easy to say but when you are a people pleaser it's harder to do. Trying to keep it in mind without being too insensitive to others.

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  9. You are a great example of someone who puts MUST into your life more than anyone I've ever seen. I'm definitely on the SHOULD shelf. I have more MUSTs in my life since I got the kids launched and I got out of a career that was eating me alive, and I try to have my home fit my core (definitely not the 'norm' living in a wall tent year-round) but there are is definitely a big regret that rises up when the SHOULD of the day-to-day job stabs me with the same feelings I thought I'd left behind with the prior career. It's all a dance I guess, and sometimes I just don't like the music.

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    1. I'm glad you see me that way because I often dont! I hear you on the day job. I feel the same way. I definitely test the limits of time off as much as I can.

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  10. Glad you ignored all of those bothersome "shoulds" and got out and followed your heart, Mary. I had an old therapists who once said that when making a decision, it's best to eliminate all of the shoulds because those aren't your voices, they're tapes of old stuff and old people and old standards that have nothing to do with how you want or even must live your life. Cheers and keep ignoring the "shoulds," okay?

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    1. You are my hero for what you are doing!

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  11. Having lived in SE Alaska, I would think you'd understand that you both SHOULD and MUST take advantage of a nice sunny day!

    That was one of the hardest things for me to get used to in Fairbanks. If today is nice, tomorrow will probably be nice. And the next day. In Sitka and Ketchikan it was always really hard NOT going out on a nice day even if I really didn't want to--so I usually did, and rarely regretted it.

    Before your time, Governor Hammond would occasionally declare "Sun-days" and let the SE state workers leave early.

    Tom
    Fairbanks

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  12. Mary,
    I have been thinking about this post for a few days. And I struggle with shoulds both in the way you say (I should work, I should pay the bills, I should do the dishes) but I also really struggle with the other shoulds (I should be more in shape, I should be doing more, I should climb every mountain around here, I should get out running more, I should be more of a badass, etc etc.) when really, I don't want to. At least not all the time. Either way, it's the external voices that are a little too loud. I feel like I should be super in-shape, and I should be a runner, but actually, I don't really like running all that much, and sometimes I just want to be in the woods, not pushing hard or running by, but just BEING. I should be more brave, and give up my job for something more "MUST", but I also really like the flexibility, and the benefits, and the fact that my job doesn't take over my life. Or, I SHOULD make a big plan to cross the island this summer...but really, if I sit down and think about it, I think I'd rather throw rocks with my kids on a three day camping getaway that may not have me being inherently hardcore. I had a friend once that had a motto along the lines of "live every day as a lion, not a lamb" and I always wanted to say, "But some days it's nice to be a lamb! Be whichever you want to be on any day!". On some level that is a "Should" statement just like "be a responsible adult" is.

    But, I don't have a lot of MUSTS right now, and I am struggling a bit with that these days. I am sure when I find a few more MUSTs, I will have less of a hard time sorting through all the SHOULD voices, regardless of what they are. But, the funny thing is; I feel like I SHOULD figure out my MUSTs. HA!

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  13. Great post and so beautiful! I love the quote from your friend at the end!

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