I forget just how much there is to see when everything is covered with snow. But now that Tahoe is in the hea(r)t of summer, curiosity has taken ahold of me. I find myself looking down at the ground as often as I take in the long views. I look closer. I look longer. I try not to assume or take for granted too much, and I ask more questions and spend even more time searching for the answers to those questions. If I don’t find the information I’m looking for, I log the item down on my list of a-million-and-one-things-to-do (later). I’ll always maintain a long to-do list but I won’t ever compile a bucket list because, in many respects, that’s what much of my life has already been reduced to.
Curiosity has always been the primary driving force in my life. It’s compelled me to earn various degrees, certificates, and recognition for my efforts. Although it was mostly because of the small backpack (that looked more like a school book bag) I used on the Appalachian Trail, I was officially given by a fellow thru-hiker the trail name of “Schoolboy.” I’d like to think that it was simply because I’m a perpetual learner who considers himself a student of life.
But curiosity has also caused me to pursue one failed endeavor or short-lived “career” after another. Early in adulthood, I participated in many activities or events just for the sake of experiencing them. A check in the box or a crossing off of a bucket list item, so to speak. This is normal for most people in their 20s because, at that age, we’re all just trying to figure out who we are and where we fit in. Over time, however, my appetite for more meaningful experiences grew. I began to realize that much of what I wanted to accomplish required unique or specialized knowledge and training. Hence, my enrollment and completion of various educational programs.
The problem was that all of the learning and education that I was doing helped make me a well-rounded person, but it wasn’t leading anywhere in particular. I simply had no clear vision for my life. And this pursuit of experience continued well into my 30s and, dare I say, even into my 40s. I understand that each one of us is a multi-talented being with diverse interests. However, I’ve finally acknowledged that if you truly want to succeed at a thing you have to make a commitment to that thing and stick with it for a long time. There are, after all, only so many hours in a day and years in a lifetime.
I’ve also come to understand that curiosity is the basis of all passion, and that learning is the path in which curiosity travels in order to manifest into passion. So I’m not wrong when I make the effort to learn about topics in which I’m interested, or take the time necessary to explore and then share my discoveries about my “Tahome” (via TahoeTrailGuide.com and social media), for example. But I’m finding that the trick is to focus those efforts in a clear direction and to do my best to manage my finite time wisely. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway, as I dive deeper into this whole Tahoe Trail Guide (aka mountain man) project.
Perhaps it’s random luck or simply an inevitability, but a couple of weeks ago at work I finally got to meet Jaime Anderson (Winter Olympic snowboard champion from South Lake Tahoe). She’s obviously an incredible winter athlete as evidenced by all of the medals and accolades she’s earned, but more importantly to me is that she’s also a really down-to-earth yet inspiring person. You can’t help but want to dedicate yourself to building something meaningful after meeting a person like her. You also can’t help but want to show your gratitude toward that person for being such an inspiration. So, you give her a homemade lemonade popsicle because it’s the least you can do.