The Lost Year

“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon…everything’s different.” – Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

This was an odd year. Not bad, just… odd. On paper there’s plenty of memorable moments that I’m very grateful for – completing my mid-life crisis career change, a big anniversary, a bucket list trip, travel to some new cities, rekindling my love of nachos  and questionable relationship with golf.

Looking back however, there were so many things that I didn’t do. I didn’t ride my bike. Or motorcycle. There was very little skiing or rafting. I didn’t take any pictures. I didn’t write much. Didn’t connect a whole lot with friends and family. Ignored the yard work. Ignored the gym. No real hiking. And worst of all, the grill saw virtually no barbeque this year.

When I look at those two paragraphs, I’m embarrassed. It’s a cliché, but what horrible first-world problems. It’s easy to forget how fortunate I am to have such trivial regrets. There is a large portion of the US, let alone the rest of the world, that can’t imagine having the year I had. Yet it’s easy to take for granted what we have and to let time slip by.

Looking ahead it feels like it’s time to reconnect. To realize that I’m way past the halfway mark of my trips around the sun. Nobody knows how many more you get, but it sure seems pretty stupid to waste them. It’s time to add some clarity to the filters that we apply to our day-to-day lives.

It’s time to say no to things that don’t add value to your life… Virtually everything on broadcast TV. Politics. Movie remakes and sequels. Being outraged at everything. Worrying what people think. Being afraid to try new things. To being lazy. It’s time to say no to pumpkin spice. And yams. Yeah, I said it. F**k yams. You can try to disguise them with marshmallows, but they’re still just nasty, mushy yams.

It’s time to say yes to travel and exploring. To being outside and skiing and rafting and fishing. To being back on two wheels and exploring trails. To being creative. To learning something new. To reaching out and maintaining connections to friends and family. To cooking and grilling. To more nachos. To exercising enough that I can eat nachos. To laughing.

Due to my job, I’ve spent a lot of time this year with people who are on their final trip around the sun. I can say with certainty that none of them wished they’d worked more, or spent more time watching TV. I suspect most of them wished they’d taken more risks. Experienced more things. Said yes more often. Engaged more with the people and world around them.

I was wrong about the year being lost. While at the time it didn’t seem like much was changing, at the end it’s given me a much healthier view of what’s important. I’m really looking forward to the new year. My single goal for this year – to minimize the number of days that seem wasted. To more often than not, go to bed and feel satisfied that I had a pretty good day. Seems simple. Harder in practice. Worth the effort.

Mediocrity And Whatnot

If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s being average. I’m not trying to be self-effacing. It’s true. I “do” a lot of stuff casually but I’m not really good at any one thing. Except eating maybe. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who can consume bacon like I can. Pork products aside, I just don’t have the drive to master something and that pisses me off. Of course not enough to actually, you know, practice or anything.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve proven that I can be focused and motivated in brief spurts. Recent highlights include:

  • The group weight loss challenge of ’14. Dropped to near high school weight and won the contest. Kept he weight off for approximately 2 days. I’m currently back in the comfortable sweat pants category.
  • There was a brief burst of photography promise. Won critical acclaim from tens of people. Now I only take blurry pictures of the dog with a cell phone.
  • This one time, I wrote a blog post about dogs and cats. Several people laughed. The zenith of my writing career.
  • This one time, I cooked up a really good batch o’ barbecue ribs. That was it. I really like ribs.

Why do I share this you ask? Because all these motivated people on the damn twitter and facebooks are really pissing me off. It’s a non-stop barrage of new year motivational challenges, positive attitudes, and ridiculous encouragement. I’m talking to you Rock with your 3:45am wake up and be the hardest worker in the room attitude. Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of it. I just don’t like the “doing” part of it.

This onslaught of be all you can be enthusiasm does work. I’ll verbally tell everyone that I’m re-embracingrule number 5 (NSFW) then go off and eat large amounts of cheese. Gym equipment, paleo instruction books, and an embarrassingly large REI dividend check all prove that I’m really good at starting something. It’s the follow through part that lacks.

My point? I don’t remember. Probably due to my ADD, lactose and gluten intolerance. I think I was trying to make a new year resolution without actually, you know, committing to anything. I resolve to keep my resolution from last year (or was it the year before?). To be motivated and get good at least one thing. I’m not sure what that is yet. My ’15 goal is to hear from someone who heard it from their non-gender-role-stereotyped cleaning persons cousin – “that troutdog dude… he’s a damn good <insert verby-noun that is at least more interesting than sudoku puzzle solver>”

Meanwhile I’m going to go organize my camera and sporting equipment. Maybe I’ll be inspired to use some of it. Or not. I think there’s a Walking Dead marathon on TV.

Ode To Cows

With your rough coat protecting you from the elements, saliva slowly drips from your cow lips.

I try to slip past without disturbing your cud, changing gears to power over the rough trail, deep divots from your hooves, standing on the muddy trail. How I love your vacant stare, steaming piles, dung shaped like frisbees, rib eye and filets, hamburger.

Calves in the spring are frisky and curious, cute eyelashes, running in the fields, speckled coats of every color. Leather jackets size forty-two long, perfect for a night on the town.

Porcine may be the ruler of barbecue, chickens are the king of breakfast supplies and spicy wings, but the bovine gives us calcium and work gloves, giardia is really just a weight loss method. Cruel? Cows are stupid, uncooperative, inconvenient, ill-tempered creatures. They get what they deserve.  A steak is what I crave.