IMG_8224Sixty-two trips around the sun. It’s somewhat hard to believe. It feels like each earthly circuit has picked up exponential speed over the past decade. What happened to trips 51 through 61? Seems like they blew by in a heartbeat. I surmise that they must have been enjoyable. The old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” seems applicable. The grim alternative would be early onset of Alzheimer’s, but I’ll compartmentalize that possibility for the moment. Both mind and body respond well to the youthful demands I place upon them. Suffice it to say, I’m a happy and healthy ancient bastard!

On a rest day, I decide to take advantage of a free trial period of XM radio. Ending our Sirius XM membership a couple of years ago was one of the budgetary sacrifices we made in order to travel lightly. Hungry for news of what’s happening in the outside world, I flip news stations… CNN… MSNBC… NPR… I even stomach a few minutes of the FOX (real deal fake!) News station to garner an alternate perspective. It pays to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer… right? My serenity is broken. I hear the same old mistakes being made. It seems that this human race we belong to rarely learns from our past experiences. Stories of killing, fear mongering, politics divided, truths denied, tax cuts for the wealthy, reductions to our already meager education spending, increases to chronically high military spending, rich needing more while the poor survive on less, proposed cuts to support of the elderly (wtf, that’s me!) and so on. I’m appalled by what I hear. Same historical mistakes amplified. I hate being that old guy who constantly refers to the past, since I prefer living in the moment, but it does seem that as a society we’re devolving. The only difference I can ascertain is that we’re doing so exponentially.

I blame humans. We are now seven billion and growing. Some scientists believe our fragile planet was meant to house three million comfortably. I think it’s time to reconsider the literal biblical interpretation of “be fruitful and multiply”. We could amend that to “procreate responsibly and consider adoption, but only if you have an IQ of 120+ or education beyond a high school level.”

After a few minutes of no-good-news, I quickly switch stations to the “Coffee House” acoustic which brings a comfortable return to a more serine state of mind. My heart rate lowers to a tranquil level, advisable for someone of my advanced age. Truthfully, I’m not too worried about my 62-year-young heart. It’s in great condition. I blame climbing, yoga and living a low stress lifestyle. As an older, alcoholic mountaineering/climbing partner used to say after each exceptionally good (translates to scary as f—k!) pitch, “I attribute my success to clean living.” He would then reach into his parka for a flask of vermouth, tipping it skyward for a long draw. Salute!

Maggie and I are currently living freely in the desert of southern Utah for our third winter on the road. We bask in the sun on rest days after Ashtanga yoga practice. Zion National Park is a mere stone’s throw away. Coyotes serenade nocturnally. Meteorites provide sporadic entertainment during long clear nights with only minor light pollution from small surrounding human settlements.  We spend portions of our rest day gearing up for our weekly assaults of the nearby Hurricave, packed with endless projects, keeping us engaged and motivated. We live fully aware and thankful of our ability to pursue this unique lifestyle. Climbing is like Buddhist sand art… mindful, meditative and utterly meaningless. As the wind easily carries away another intricately delicate piece of impermanent art, so goes another climbing project. The mind and body are fully engaged during the redpoint process, but releases all past experience in pursuit of another. We are only left with fleeting memories and the melancholy of things final…

Happy Every Moment of Every Day (not just Holidays) from both of us!



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