Writing from the Columbia River Basin

Little City of Rocks

Little City of Rocks

We're wandering in and out of hoodoos and sagebrush and it's my birthday and I'm almost old enough to know better and I'm thinking about my younger self. I'm thinking about what I would tell her if she was following behind me on this desert trail. I wonder if the best advice doesn't come from the edge of things. At 26 I don't have any advice to give but I also believe not nearly enough perspective is dispensed by the people still close enough to remember reality. I remember who that twenty year old girl was. I see her every time I walk down a street in Missoula or take a group of guide trainees down a river. Sometimes I still see her in my review mirror. And I want to tell her this:

1) Find your why. As long as you know why it doesn't matter what job you do or decision you make or place you live. As long as you keep that core "why" burning and make your decisions grounded in yourself, all the scattered pieces of yourself with slowly begin to come together into one cohesive shape. It's eerie, magical and incredible. Trust it.

2) Establish credit. I know you are proud that you have never been in debt. I know you are thankful to not have student loans or auto payments. I know you prefer to put utilities in other people's names so you can come and go as you please. I know it feels wild and exuberant to never sign a year-long lease. But here's the thing: the rest of the world doesn't GAF that you saved your money wisely and made it stretch. And I know it seems so distant and unfathomable but soon you are going to want to buy a house. And your perfect savings record wont matter. Get a credit card, ASAP.

2.5) Ditto ROTH IRA. Just do it now.

3) Telling people you might be cruel to them doesn't make it okay to be cruel to them. Ever.

4) Fall in love with your solitude. Just because something is uncomfortable doesn't mean it isn't good for you. Spend time alone dropping flies on current lines. Snuggle into the back of your car (doors locked because you're still secretly terrified of the dark) and listen to the night sounds as you fall asleep. Drink coffee. Be lonely. Hear yourself think.

5) All that "fall nine times get up ten" crap is true. The successful people are the people that try hardest. That's the only secret and it's not even a secret, it's just hard.

6) You're going to realize soon that people don't value you because of how badass you are. But believing this awhile longer will make you really good at some really crazy stuff, so it's okay to go that path a bit longer.

7) Your mother can simultaneously be your best friend and drive you crazy. It's because you're more or less the same person. Get over it, love her anyway, neither of you is going anywhere.

8) Your corner of the world has some of the the best skiing, fishing, biking and hiking in the world. Travel abroad for other reasons.

9) You don't have to lose yourself to love someone. And he's not asking you to.

10) You never ever "figure it out". You just become more yourself, more truthful, more efficient and more grounded. Know how much you don't know. Try new things. Don't take yourself too seriously. Take yourself seriously. Embrace the contradiction. Stay off Instagram. Listen to your friends, cherish your friends, make friends with people you think you don't like. Pretend you're an artist. Believe you're an artist. Refine the subtle art of not giving a fuck. Say no as much as you say yes. You'll be ready for the next step when you're ready for the next step. Laugh.