The most recent adventures have pulled more on my heartstrings than my hamstrings. About a month ago my boss invited me to join him for the PassiveHouse Northwest conference being held in Portland. Aside from the topic matter (that has become increasingly more important to me of late), I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to see friends and spend some time in the previous home city. About a week ago, I realized that making the trip was also likely to involve some challenging emotions. We’ll stick to the facts first.
PassivHaus is an aggressive German standard for designing and constructing buildings with ultra low energy use and ultra high air quality and comfort. In the design community it has a reputation for attracting some of the most zealous and nerdy folks that the architecture and engineering community can offer. I prefer to think that the standard simply represents the next logical step in how buildings really must be designed and built. In general, folks at the conference were well behaved, very amiable, and geeked out really hard (star of the show was the guy who built a PassivHaus in Fairbanks, Alaska).
In between conference duties, I squeezed in time with old friends, and wandered in old familiar places. I stared down some heavy emotions about careers, opportunities, friends, love, and the direction I’d like my life to take.
I miss Portland. I miss the deep and high quality friendships that I have there. The high salary gave me ample freedom of choice, and the city itself met much of my criteria for where I want to be. I found two musical partners there that continue to write and perform music that I love, and loved to be a part of. I honed my skills there in a career that is important and meaningful, and yet somehow in my gut, my life isn’t there.
I love Montana, and have ever since my first trip as a kid. The access to the outdoors is phenomenal. I’ve found meaningful work to get back on my feet, and live a simpler life that is more locally oriented. In many ways, life here is better balanced, and I’m looking forward to many awesome, local adventures. I feel honored to work with the people that I do, and am excited to be developing new skills an knowledge in the building design field I’ve done well with in the past.
I’ve found a little more peace since returning to Missoula, but my heart was in limbo for most of last week. No doubt, I’m sticking to my commitment to Montana, but it was an interesting trip to Portland. Below is a small bit of wisdom I picked up on the way:
“Any pain associated with leaving something behind is usually a good sign that it was worth what you paid for it in the first place.” (George Veech)