Lead an Examined Life

“Running breaks my body, but it sure fixes my soul.” (Garrett Moon)
This post started as a longer, less focused expression of a wide variety of emotions I’ve held closely for the last 2,000 miles of driving. After a long run tonight, I’ve found a more meaningful and concise set of words.

I met an important woman on my flight from Chicago to Dallas on Wednesday morning.
I arrived in West Virginia late Saturday night and sent an important email.
Sunday I drove 450 miles northeast to meet her in Niagara Falls, NY.
We laughed over dinner in a dive bar, split a bottle of wine, and walked along the river.
She had to work on Monday, and I still had 2,700 miles to drive to Portland.
The odds are reasonable that I will not see her again.
It was worth it.

She is intelligent, beautiful, humble, and willing to look at herself and her life carefully in the mirror. She is nothing short of incredible to me, and I’m looking forward to developing our friendship. True to her form, getting to know her meant that she forced me to look at my life in the mirror very carefully. Thank you lady.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to allow a more transparent examination of my life. The directive “lead an examined life” actually comes from my time working for patagonia (the clothing company), it’s value has held in the years since I worked there. When I’m forced to examine my life more closely, I know I’ve done something correctly. I enjoy long distance driving for the mental space it affords me, this trip has been no different.

You should be looking at the ridgeline behind the highway, mountaintop removal- the real deal in West Virginia.

Cleveland.

How far would you go for the right person? How far would you go for the right job? What constitutes being in “the right place” (or “the right person” or “right job”)? On what do we base our priorities?

Central Illinois.

Mississippi River.

When our personal and functional dreams seem to be at odds, how do we know when we we’ve struck the right balance? When do we compromise? When do we refuse compromise?

I’ve been fortunate to have spent the past 6 months following my heart, and learning about myself, but in many ways these bigger questions remain unanswered. I haven’t forced myself to be accountable for answering them. Certainly I have experienced personal growth, but maybe this experience renews the cycle- in some ways I feel like I’m starting from square one. These questions will be waiting for me when I get back from South America, and I will be required to answer them in order to move on with my life. The commitment I have to my values makes it difficult to ignore, or answer these questions falsely.

Renewing the cycle in Nebraska, the very spot I camped four years ago while moving to Oregon.

The northern plains of Colorado.

“Allow. That’s most of what we have to do, is allow it. We might not understand now or ever, but we will feel our lives.” (Andrew Given)

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