07 Aug May Your Trails be Crooked, Winding, Lonesome…
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. ~ Edward Abbey
Do you guys ever question your choices? I know I do, especially these days. There are all these things society says are normal, things I feel like I’m supposed to be doing…career, house, family…
But instead, last year I left a steady full time job to begin a new career in the volatile fields of freelance film, photography, and marketing. I split my time living between a tiny sailboat and in the back of an even tinier car. And most days, I still feel like a little wild child myself, so thoughts of future and family are the furthest things from my mind. Instead, I’m just constantly thinking about all the things I want to climb!
Sometimes, I wake up in the mountains and think, this is the life, I must be doing something right. Other times, I look around at my circumstances and wonder, have I fallen behind? Am I doing ANYTHING right?
I think a lot of us feel this way, at least in some part. And perhaps most especially in the climbing and outdoor adventure community, where our lives seem to follow dusty roads and back country trails, rather than suburban streets and corporate ladders. We live on the road in our vehicles, scrape by with whatever flexible work we can find, and chase intangible dreams up mountain peaks. We’re often lacking in security, comfort, career progression, and even companionship, which are things I believe almost all of us still want.
So why do we do it? It’s an interesting lifestyle choice that even while I live it, I still don’t fully understand it. What keeps me going when things can be so difficult? Am I just doing everything wrong? And am I ever going to get anywhere, or will I always be scraping by?
These are things I ask myself all the time, and have really enjoyed discussing with others as well, so I was very excited when I was approached by a commercial director who was shooting a short docu-film addressing these very same questions. Gary not only wanted to film me for several days, but after learning that I was in the midst of switching careers into film and photography, he also had a crazy proposition for me – join him on the road for a month, and help film interviews and adventures with other talent! He offered me a position as producer and assistant shooter, with the added bonus that my boyfriend would come along as another shooter!
Our adventure began with three days of filming around the Los Angeles area. Gary did a great job capturing my lifestyle, filming paragliding, climbing, and an in depth interview on my boat, where we talked about my past, my family, and events in my life that had led me to that moment.
And then, in October of 2018, we hit the road. Gary in his sprinter van full of camera gear, and Bobby and I in my Subaru Crosstrek, full of climbing and paragliding gear. Through 6 states and over 3000 miles, we tagged along with van dwellers, climbers, base jumpers, adventure photographers, and families living on the road. There were some great adventures along the way, as well as days filled with drudgery, incessant miles, and constant bickering. The three of us saw each other at both our highest, and our lowest, most frustrated points.
We met amazing people, saw incredible sites, and had so many deep and authentic conversations about life. In the end, we came home a strange mix of happy, satisfied, and incredibly weary from weeks of constant motion on the road. It was a journey I’m so grateful to have been a part of, and throughout it, I feel like I learned so much about my new career field, my relationships, and myself. But in filming so many people doing so many different things, I still didn’t feel any closer to finding the answers I had been seeking about how I should be living life.
I’m writing this post about nine months after our trip. Gary just put out a little one minute IG cut down of my part in the Off Route film series. There’s a quote at the end that I don’t even remember saying.
“I’m experiencing life, so maybe I’m not off track.”
The first time I heard this, I felt my heart skip a little beat because I realized that maybe that’s the answer, right there. That very simplest of things.
Maybe there is no right or wrong way. All there is, is the experience of life.
People always say that life is a journey, not a destination. Cliche, maybe, but it makes complete sense, because let’s be honest, I don’t think anybody, no matter their chosen lifestyle, really knows exactly what they’re doing or where they’re going. But the one thing we all have in common, is that we’re trying to make the journey, the experience, the best we can. It might look different, it might look strange, but deep down it’s all the same. We’re all just out there on our chosen roads…Experiencing life.
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Even for a woman like Katie Jo Myers, who now spends most of her time dangling from cliffs by her fingertips, leaping from ledges hundreds of feet high, and either racing or cruising in a sailboat that houses everything she owns, the beaten path can be alluring. So, when Katie arrived in L.A. nearly a decade ago, she dove head first into post, post-graduate convention. She secured a full-time job with great benefits and joined the hustling city grind. But, within a month, life for Katie had lost all purpose. And, in less than a year, it became hard for her to keep her car from driving off the bridge. She was miserable. And, she wasn’t quite sure why. She’d exceeded all expectations - completed her master’s degree (overseas no less); lived in one of the greatest cities in the country; and had a job that most recent graduates floating around L.A. would kill for. Nonetheless, she felt like she was suffocating. “And then I discovered the climbing gym,” she said. Within a couple of visits, Katie knew that she’d found her people. She and climbers she met over time spent weekends at Bishop, Yosemite, and Red Rock, where Katie finally fell in love with where she’d landed. “The outdoors was my safe place growing up,” she said. And, climbing became that for her, as well. Katie’s love of the sport became a priority, and her prowess quickly reflected this. After six years in L.A., she was faced with the opportunity to successfully detach, almost completely, from a mainstream lifestyle in order to live a life dedicated to what she loved – climbing and being outdoors - and, she jumped on it. So, she bought a sailboat (never having sailed before), converted the trunk of her car into a bed, and now lives her life exactly as her passions intend for her to – free to roam. “We watch these stories on television about other people living their lives to the fullest,” Katie said. “But, what about our own lives? What about creating and living our own stories? I feel like that’s our task here.”