Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day One of the Rest and the Best of My Life

January 2, 2015.

These mountains are again my home.

I have grown tired of floudering around wondering where home is (Denver? Missoula?Eugene?Flagstaff?).

For 26 months and 2 days, the time since I ceased being a resident, I have asked myself so many times which place felt right. Yeah....I never could come up with a satisfying answer. I tried to force each place feel like home. I became one helluva actor. I thought I could love each of these places, but I never was able to shake that empty, barren, unfulfilled feeling.

Sometimes this feeling came to me in a whisper and sometimes it grasped my throat and slammed me up against the wall. I closed my eyes and silently longed for something more. Trying to explain this longing to people close to me was a mixed bag of results. Some truly identified and conversations would flow into the wee hours of the morning. Some identified but are far too scared to change what they have grown into believing or have been told is "comfortable." They actually had more interest in their phone/the weather/[fill in the blank]. My sense of longing increased exponentially after these trainwreck attempts. Some had already found their home and had satiated that deep longing. These conversations fostered hope for my own journey within my soul.

But throughout this time the question I kept asking myself was why I ever left? I came up with many excuses and reasons but they all boiled down to one word:


And we all know what happened to FEAR on New Years Eve:

I asked myself on the last day of 2014:

Why do I ride my bike without fear but fear being in a place where jobs and housing are not abundant?

Why do I fear living in a small town where people are happy and healthy and socially and intellectually engaging?

Why do I fear a place whose mountains bring light into my eyes and soul?

I am not scared to bite off more than I can chew, go big and fall flat on my face/ass on two wheels or two feet or four hooves, so why do I let fear jumble my thoughts and reasoning and send me on a wild search for a home? Especially since my heart knew where home was the first time I drove into the San Juan and La Plata mountains 10 years ago.

I suppose the answers to those questions are an entanglement of relationships, jobs, money, goals, perceived lifestyles, houses, and blah, blah, blah.

Perhaps the best answer came from my brother, Brian. We sat down with a fifth of Crown one rainy night and talked until 4am when I was home in Oregon just before Christmas. He is not a phone talker or a texter and the last ten years have been quick, time-limited phone calls and visits. He is not eloquent with words about emotions and feelings, but he is true, genuine and deep. He is honest and compassionate with his actions, He is also intimidatingly intelligent and talented. If you need it fixed or figured out, he is going to be the one who will do it. He has the heart of a child that is quite refreshing. He gets giddy over Christmas lights and will ramble on about them like I do my bike. He National-Lampooned 20 acres with lights, powered largely by a windmill and a solar panel. And I think my best Christmas gift ever was watching him giggle as he turned them on and off with his cell phone from the couch.

His answer was this:

"You need to master the art of not giving a fuck. Do what you need to do."

And it is that simple. My heart tells me what I need to do. Somehow, in a whirlwind of expectations, worries, stressors, goals reached and unreached, failed relationships, money, traffic, exhaustion, lack of intellectual challenges and a hundred other pieces of debris from this storm, my ears grew deaf to the voice of my heart. Coupled with my horrible, destructive habit of expecting instead of accepting, I lost my smile and my silliness.

I took a picture of myself in the mirror at my low point, just before the 4am Crown-induced sibling solving of all the world's problems:

This is the fake smile of stress, exhaustion and too much "giving a fuck."

Now compare it to my year in Durango:

That smile is real. That silliness is envigorating and contagious. That is Jill.

So is Durango the answer to everything?


Durango is home.

My home.

And the people with whom I am meant to chase down dreams, adventures and all of the beauty waiting to be discovered in these mountains already live here or will find their way here someday. Because this is where Jill lives and who Jill is. The old woman in the mirror is someone I never want to look at again.

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