It is Better to Be an Honest Street Sweeper Than a Dishonest King

What I Am Listening to These Days:

I definitely used to hold up this “thing” that I thought I was supposed to be, I avoided the “seething sea of anger and sadness” in myself by looking up at it.  I tried to be someone I wasn’t for a long time.  I was unkind to myself, and even sometimes others, because I was frustrated by how hard it was to try and become something that I wasn’t meant to be.  Then, I went down into that dark place, and I let that “thing” I was trying to be disappear into the black tar that enveloped my sunless world.  I was in a shadowy forest for a long time, but this summer has been a time of transformation.  Enlightening is the only way to describe my journey.  On my birthday everything was falling apart and I was incredibly depressed.  My aunt told me that she and my dad had promised each other that if there was anything after death, whoever went first would find a way to break through and tell the other one.  She said he never has made any connection with her since his death.  So, she said, there is nothing after we die.  It wasn’t that statement alone that made me sad, everything and everyone around me seemed to be falling apart.  I felt useless and unaccomplished, like my life had no significance or meaning.  On top of that I felt ugly and stupid.  I fell into this mental pit that I just couldn’t crawl out of, but then, as I was wallowing in my own sadness in my bedroom…….my dad came to help.  When I was little I somehow decided that my dad’s color was yellow.  The day he came to visit I felt like the color yellow blanketed over my whole mind, there was a feeling of immense brightness but also hints of darkness.  I was too afraid to move, but I felt him behind me, he wrapped around me and in my head I heard the words, “You’ll be here with me soon.”  I didn’t know whether to be afraid that that meant I was going to die soon, or to be happy because maybe it meant I was going to connect with him in some way I couldn’t understand yet.

During the days that followed my dad’s visit I became motivated to start planning my summer adventure that I had dreamed about for so long.  Then I ended up spending the month of June at the cabin, then in July and August I started climbing mountain after mountain.  And here I am now, I just finished my 18th peak of the summer and my 26th overall.  And in the process of it all I came out of that dark pit that I used to reside in.  It’s just been one step at a time, one mile at a time, one peak at a time…but it all feels like magic.  Some days are harder than others, but I don’t feel like I used to.  Certain things just aren’t important anymore.  Certain philosophers, authors, and occurrences have taken my mind down new roads; they have widened my eyes and expanded my capacity to understand and accept.  I don’t know what’s next or where things are going…but I understand and accept that wherever I go and whatever happens… it will all be perfect.  Everything is what it is for a very specific purpose. I accept that accomplishments and material things are insignificant.  I accept who I am, as I am.

My dad passed away when I was just a little girl.  Most people say they don’t have memories of the age I was when he died.  But I REMEMBER!  All I had after he died were my memories, so I replayed them over and over again.  He has been a significant part of my life, for my entire life.  I think about him almost every day.  He has been my source of sadness, motivation, pain, enlightenment, joy, etc.  I think his death created my tendency toward cyclical thinking, which was a very bad habit for a while.  Alan Watts said something like, compulsive thinking is like a drug, a very dangerous drug that we become addicted to.   Recently, I have been able to quiet my mind without thinking about not thinking, if that makes sense?  Because I have been able to do that…I think I am with my dad now more than ever before.  It’s really hard to explain how the sight of the world has changed in my eyes.  But the best way I can describe it would be to say: the world once seemed blurry and sad and mean and judgmental…and now everything works together and flows and connects and is crisp and clear.  I am fine with being a hobo-vagabond, I’d rather be that than something I am not.  The whole metaphor of my blog was about “killing King Sisyphus”…killing the asshole within myself…killing the part of me that pushes a meaningless thing up a hill just to watch it fall because it’s what I think people want me to do.  If I can now happily claim to be an honest form of street sweeper (metaphorically speaking), does that mean I have killed my inner Sisyphus?  I don’t know if he is clinically dead, I don’t even know if “killing” him is even what I want to do anymore…I just know I want to nourish the street sweeper and see her thrive.

I told my friend, Minnesota, about seeing my dad and she said, “They say there is no pain in heaven, but maybe seeing his child in so much pain made him feel like he had to help you.”  He did help me and I am grateful!

What I’m Reading These Days:

“Beyond the road where the snakes sunned themselves was a dense young thicket, and through a dim-lighted path led a quarter of a mile; then out of the dimness one emerged abruptly upon a level great prairie which was covered with wild strawberry plants, vividly starred with prairie pinks, and walled in on all sides by forests.  The strawberries were fragrant and fine, and in the season we were generally there in the crisp freshness of the early morning while the dew-beads still sparkled upon the grass and the woods were ringing with the fine songs of the birds.”     –p. 214 Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 1

I’m a moron for putting that right before my writing.  Oh well!

Quandary and Evans:

Yesterday, I climbed Quandary and took my dog Prince with me.  It was his first fourteener and I was excited to have his company, but also nervous that he might be (for lack of a better word) annoying.  When I pulled in to the parking area at the base of Quandary there were tons of cars.  I drove from Fountain and didn’t arrive until about 7:30 in the morning, which was a very late start for such a popular mountain…and on a Friday…forget about it.  I know I said bringing music on a fourteener is like bringing your own food to a restaurant, but when a peak is crawling with people having conversations that I don’t care to overhear…then I am ok with some kind of a buffer.  I had downloaded a bunch of Alan Watts audio, so I decided I’d listen to him the whole way up.  Prince barfed on his leash and took off after a ground squirrel immediately after he got out of the car, and I thought, this is going to be rough.  But after a stern conversation between the two of us, things ran smoothly and he was very well behaved.  I passed quite a few weekend warriors as I ascended, there was one group of guys who were clearly trying to keep ahead of me, but eventually I wore them out and passed them.  I don’t honestly care about passing or being passed, I just think it’s funny when I come across people who do care.

The hike was a steady and fairly kind incline that was just steep enough to get my heart pumping, and it made me have a hankering for a beer.  I never crave beer…but something about fourteeners really makes me acquire a taste for a bubbly golden glass of the good stuff.  When I summited, there were people drinking ice cold ones on a nearby boulder, arrrgggggg it was torture!  Prince and I hung out for a little bit and took pictures, and then we made our way down.  When I got to my car I didn’t even change out of my boots, I headed straight for Alma.  When I got there it was pouring rain and pinging hail, I thought I would just be able to sit outside with my puppy and drink a cold one, but that wasn’t going to happen.  The bartender kindly let Prince and me come in, even though they didn’t allow dogs normally.  I got my drink and had a DELICIOUS taco salad!  MMMMMmmmmmm!  I snuck pieces of chicken to Prince as he quietly hung out under the table.  Shhh!

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Sweet spot just below Quandary

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Resident of Quandary

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After I finished eating I decided I’d head out to Mt. Evans, which I had tried to do a few weeks ago but the byway was closed.  When I got there I parked at the Summit Lakes parking lot.  There was one other car and I only saw a few people here and there.  I found a little chalet type building and claimed it as mine for the night.  I played guitar and sang to my puppy briefly, but I was quite ready to greet a good night of slumber.  I woke up to Prince growling at people walking and talking outside of the shelter, when I opened the door at 6:00am the, once empty, parking lot was overflowing and people were buzzing around the whole place; chatting and prepping for their hikes.  Luckily, the hike I did from Summit Lakes was one that nobody else was doing when I started ascending.  That meant I could take Prince off his leash and let him GO!  He had a blast running around chasing wildlife that he definitely was not supposed to be disturbing.  I made my way up the trail slowly but surely and before long I hit the summit parking lot.  I snapped a few pictures and then hit the last few switchbacks that led to the top.  I had enough energy to run and race my pup up the final push.  We scrambled and hopped from boulder to boulder, then found little nooks and crannies to hide in.  Later,  we returned to the summit parking lot where we encountered a mama goat and her baby.  I watched them for a little bit and then retraced my steps back down the path I came up.  Eventually, I found myself back at Summit Lakes and was I ready to go.  But where was I going to go next?  Lake City!  Why?  Because a Lion Mountain tracker (that I met on La Plata) told me that would be a cool spot to hit next, with great peaks to climb…and because of this email from one of my dad’s best friends:

“Mike was a rare once in a lifetime friend and father. I’m so glad you are embarking upon this quest…Many years ago before <your mom> and children your dad did a 21 day wilderness experience in the Gunnison National Forest with residents from Brockhurst Boys Ranch where he was a counselor. I think that’s where he fell in love with the Lake City area…Looks like you take after him.”

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Squat Spot

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rainy evening before the climb

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Morning of the climb

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Parking lot

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BABY!

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And because I love this song, here’s more of what I have been listening to:

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