Do you miss it?

Do you miss it?

Yesterday Facebook did that thing where it shows you an old photo from a million years ago and asks if you want to share it with others, to y’know, “remember the good times”. This time my wife got a photo of when she was crushing the Shooting Star couloir on James Peak in Colorado. This was back in 2009 when we still lived in Denver, and weekends were dedicated all-day-every-day for hiking, climbing, skiing, and pushing our limits in the mountains.

Jamie on  Shooting Star couloir on James Peak circa 2009

Back then, we weren’t even married, let alone thinking about kids and we had no idea that our life would change so dramatically when we did. An interesting thing happened when she shared the image, one of our friends asked “Do you miss it?”

Do you miss it?

The truth is, it’s a complex yes-no kind of answer to this question these days and to begin to understand it I first had to explore what exactly “it” was. Was it the physical exhaustion after 20km and 1,500m gain in a 14 hour day? Was it the joy of being able to do precisely what we wanted to do at the time? Was it the mental engagement and clarity that comes with 2,000ft of air under you ass when you’re making the crux move? Or was it the camaraderie that comes with sharing the trail and experience with friends?

And if those are the things you’re missing, then what was it that you got out of it? Joy? A sense of accomplishment? The pleasure and satisfaction that comes with being in nature for an extended period of time? Happiness? Self-actualization?

The Yes answer is of course I miss it! I miss the early starts, the physical challenge, the freedom to roam and take risks. I miss the camaraderie of climbers, the route finding, and hours spent outdoors. I miss it deeply in my heart of hearts.

The No answer is something that younger-me would detest, but that now-me is embracing. Life has changed and maybe, just maybe, those old Hallmark Movies were on to something. If it’s physical exhaustion you’re after then try chasing after a 3-year old when she really gets going on a run bike. If it’s alpine starts you miss, you’re just a nasty-stomach flu away from getting up at 3:30 am (and 4:00, and 4:30, and 5:00).

When I scratch away the surficial coatings, and truly begin to dig into the wellspring of where joy and happiness come from the answer can be hard to pin down. Despite the trials of parenthood, and the overall lack of peak-bagging happening, there is a lot of joy and happiness in my life these days. It’s a different kind of joy and happiness that fill up the chasm left behind by high-risk mountain pursuits. There is joy in seeing my family grow and thrive and take on new challenges, there is happiness in sharing something I love with my kids, even if we only make it 1km on a hike. I get a tremendous sense of accomplishment now when my kids make it to the top of a 5.4 climb; or when the ask to go outside and play, even though it’s -20C.

I also know that as the kids get older and become more capable that our adventures will grow with them. I won’t have to lower my expectations so much in the future, and I highly suspect that the day will come (sooner than we think) when we’ll be the ones struggling to keep up to them! We’ll build a new life of adventurousness, it’ll just be one small step at a time.




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