Framework is the term I prefer to use when describing an approach to “solving a problem” or simply living a life. Much like the dimensions of a canvas on which you would paint a portrait or the color palette in which you would choose to paint a landscape, framework provides structure to your environment (physically in some cases and metaphorically in others) allowing you to remain focused on your task. If your canvas was miles high or wide, you would never complete the painting in any sort of reasonable time. Or, if every conceivable color of paint was available, you would waste time just searching for the right colors. Without a framework, structure, or system life can be downright exhausting.
In a conversation I recently had with my best friend, however, I was confronted with the alternate view of a framework, which is that it’s nothing more than a trap.
Whether we like it or not, we spend our entire lives building traps for ourselves. Some are clearly more beneficial to us than others (i.e. golden cages), but a trap is still a trap. Our beliefs, our careers, our relationships, and our love of binge watching those award-winning shows on Netflix … they all clearly serve us in myriad ways. However, we must recognized that a trap combined with inertia (i.e. habit) will forever conspire to keep us from experiencing other aspects of life. Again, this could be a wonderful thing. You could be a recovering drug user who channeled your addictive behavior into running ultra-marathons. But what if your biggest trap was the career path you chose 13 years ago that never really lived up to your expectations (but if you just held on for 7 more years you’d qualify for that pension…). Or, what should’ve been nothing more than a one-night stand wound up turning into a mediocre relationship lasting more than a decade.
In many ways, living at Lake Tahoe has become my greatest trap. I’m definitely not complaining, but whatever aspirations of traveling the world I once had have magically disappeared. Fortunately, there’s enough terrain and history here for me to spend decades exploring and learning about, so I simply don’t want to go anywhere else.
These are the thoughts that have been consuming me as I invest more time and effort into my work, specifically with regard to my outdoor-related website Tahoe Trail Guide. See, Tahoe really has become my trap because I’m literally creating a career based on it! Although I’ve been building the site and producing blogs for a year and a half now, it’s only been in the past few months that I’ve refined my schedule to the point where my work shifts at my seasonal jobs are my only planned events. Extra-curricular activities that used to be part of my weekly routine have been jettisoned in order to free up time so that I can go on more adventures in order to gather research material for the website. This has not been easy because those activities of which I no longer participate were replete with great people. I now seldom see those friends and, for better or worse, I spend a lot of time by myself whether it be in front of the computer or behind a camera. But, damn, I have gotten a lot of stuff done in the meantime.
Without breaching the topic of regret and all its baggage, the question that comes to mind is … does the trap (or framework) you’ve built yourself still serve you today or does it need to be re-evaluated?