I usually just smile and nod when well meaning friends shake their heads and say ” it’s great that you are doing this (climbing) now while you have no kids. once the kids come along, all that changes…” If I accepted conventional social expectations, I would have hung up my rope and rack a long time ago. I mean, let’s be fair–diabetics don’t “belong” in the wilderness or on big climbs–at least that’s what I heard from a pudgy fellow who had been hauled up a “big” climb by his guide when I passed him on the way down and shared my story and the motivation for Project 365 with him.

I owe much of my “pioneer spirit” to my parents and the fact that they didn’t see having kids as a limitation to what they could do–rather they found ways to teach us to do more and be responsible. We (6 of us) lived in a 2 bedroom house. I never had TV or video games growing up. I went to the library for entertainment and bought old books at yard sales with money I’d earn mowing lawns for my neighbors. I didn’t have money for climbing gear so I climbed trees without ropes and went fishing and hiking and spent my summers digging stuff up and flipping over rocks. Looking back I wouldn’t trade that childhood for all the money in the world–one caveat though–I might have liked to get out of the trees and onto some real rock at a younger age, but still…

“I Believe I Can Fly” from Snowblindfilm on Vimeo.

When I was 2 years old, my parents packed us all up into a Pontiac station wagon and we spent the summer on the road, driving across the US and Canada, camping every night and exploring the west. We made it all the way up to Alaska that summer and that trip planted the seed that has been, for better or worse, blossoming well into my adulthood.

So when I hear people imply that the value we place on being outdoors, seeking adventure, exploring and living minimally–is only a temporary, solo fling I always have to choke back a harsh reply. It’s just like how people said “Oh yeah do this stuff while you’re single, because once you’re married, that all changes”. I never bought that logic either–and now I have a partner in my adventures and am happy to report that a lot of the conventional wisdom about how you  ought to live your life and the reality  you can or can’t create is a lot of bullshit.

An amazing swath of experience opens up when you finally realize how much you can DO and how unlimited you can be if you are only willing to let go of social expectations. Do I sound like a ranting commie? Maybe. Here’s me caring……..wait for it……..nope. Still nothing. Let me illustrate this rant with a simple example of what I mean: When Stef and I got married (circa 2008) we paid 100 bucks for a wedding and maybe another 100 for our clothes (combined). We went to the San Diego courthouse, said our vows (to be fair the courthouse out here is right on the bay and is very nice!) went back to her sisters place and ate Carl’s Junior. Paid out of pocket and it was one of the best choices we have made.

A few people got angry because they felt entitled to the traditional wedding experience with all of the stress, tension, argumentation and debt. I actually expected more people to have that type of reaction–but I was really surprised at how many people were envious that we took this very obvious shortcut around a lot of negative things that no one really wants coloring the outset of their marriage…

So yeah…kids or no, we will be living according to the things we value most, even if after 30 years we are still getting smug reminders that “You’d better enjoy all that exploring and climbing, because soon you will have oxygen tanks and adult diapers–and you just CANT be carrying on like that anymore.”

Let neither youth nor old age stop you from living the life you want. Matter of fact, don’t let a bunch of “things” that you probably don’t need stop you either. This photo is of climbing legend Fred Beckey: another crazy who didn’t get the memo about slowing down at the youthful age of 89…