Saturday, April 2, 2011

Barefoot Travels #2

Since the snow is now melting down here off the mountain (although a foot is predicted tonight on mountain, and I have the day off tomorrow) I have begun to again pursue finding new and exciting hikes. There are miles of trails around Park City, of which so far I have explored one that is only about a mile from my house. One nice part of hiking in Park City is that almost any hike goes up. Very important as the views change every switchback, something that amazes me every time I go around a turn. I started my hike with bread, cheese and water in backpack, new boots on my feet. I was about two miles up the path, and near the summit of a small bluff, when I first noticed the hot spot on my heel. PERFECT! My boots had not yet been broken in; a problem that I chose to ignore when starting my hike. The blisters gained from new hiking boots are much different than those that are kindly gifted by wearing ski boots all day, every day.

So at the top of the hill I sat down, looked across the valley at the mountains, ate some cheese and bread, and then started my trip back down to the car, boots and socks now in hand. As discussed from a previous hike in Maine, I actually really like hiking without shoes. There is a connection that one feels to what one is actually doing, especially when sharp rocks reach the bottom of your foot, or you feel the cold of a large boulder, dampness of moss, or squish of mud. While there is always the danger of being hurt worse than a blister (and a cut on the bottom of ones foot is not a fun way to live life) the trade off of connection is far more important.

While on a hike in Maine I really noticed this physical connection; on my barefoot hike down the switchbacks in Park City, I realized a different type of sensation. While hiking barefooted it is almost impossible to constantly look up at ones large surroundings, as it is important to examine each step to avoid those pesky sharp pebbles. Seeing the majesty of mountains, oceans, stars and grand scenery is very beneficial to our lives, as it often reminds us of our place in the world; fleeting.
However, it is also important to focus on each small step. Each of us has their own path to follow, and hiking barefoot forces us to focus on these small, seemingly insignificant steps; each of which leads us further down the path on which we tread. Once in a while we must look up, and see all around us that is vast, to remember that we are hiking the path to discover that vastness, but one step at a time.

New Directions

I have not posted for some time, and for this I apologize, but the time has not seemed right. I am currently coming to the end of some wonderful months living in Park City, Utah. As with any new experience, especially one in which life continues to be so new (which has been my theme for the last year since college) I have learned so much about those around me, the world, and myself; past, present and future.

Yesterday I received a fortune cookie notice that said "You are headed in the right direction." While I am not in the habit of basing life choices on hidden advice printed thousands of times thousands of miles away, I liked this one. My recent revelations involve a new passion; that of teaching. Both my grandfather and father were teachers in some respect, as well as other relatives I believe. Throughout life my grandmother has told me that I will end up teaching somewhere, someday. I have always discounted these comments, but have recently had to humble myself and admit that the path of my life might just veer toward teaching.

Teaching 3 year olds to ski at Deer Valley has been by far the best job I have ever had, and it will be difficult to top. Never in a job have I felt so supported or felt like I was actually contributing. Teaching 3 year olds is not a difficult job for me, although it is challenging. An attribute that I have significantly grown is patience. This trait is difficult for many, including myself, but conquering feelings of anger, aggression, fear etc "feels" very rewarding. Often it seems we allow these emotions, and others, to rule what we do in life, relationships, work places etc. Although emotions are necessary and healthy pieces of who we are as human beings, to be able to healthily control some of the unhealthy emotions with ones mind and conviction feels like a good step down the right path (More on paths later).

Anyway, teaching has a certain draw because of the ability to actually influence people. When looking for role models, who could be better than a good teacher? In my life, besides my father, I think that teachers and professors have had the greatest positive effect. I have always wanted to "do" something with my life, but until now, what exactly to do was never clear. We all have passions, and many have "callings" early in life. Those who are lucky find these callings early and so can shape their education and lives around the calling. If this is my "calling," I actually feel blessed that I have not realized it until now. Many factors in life have led to this clarification of what life is about, for me.

I think much of the draw to interacting and teaching children, philosophically, is also what they can offer. The simplicity of kids, at least 3 year olds, is amazing and admirable if not enviable. As adults, our lives are often clouded by all that happens around us, and forget who we are. While children may be considered selfish or self-centered, they are simple in this and have not yet learned any other way. Three year olds get upset if they have an accident, if their parents leave, if they are hurt, tired, hungry or just need attention. All of these wants/desires/needs are perfectly natural. Children of this age have not yet been tainted by others views of what should be natural, or others views of wants/needs. As adults we should know better than to focus only on our own needs/wants, but part of life is to fight against this selfish human nature. I believe adults often taint these ideas, however, and so part of what is so attractive to me about teaching kids is how much I can and do learn from them.

A pine tree to an adult is often simply a piece of vegetation or part of the scenery that surrounds what they are doing; to a child it is a Christmas tree.

This positive outlook transfers so easily to those adults who listen I believe. Parents are blessed to have children, and one day I am exited to have them as well. I have often discussed sharing my passions with others. This theory or idea about what to do with life has not changed, but the "others" has narrowed to children...those who can still understand how to enjoy sharing emotions, experiences etc.

Therefore, the next step in the road that does go ever on will be a camp on Catalina Island, California (an hour ferry ride off the coast of Los Angeles). Starting May 28th, I will be teaching kids aged 7-17 sailing in small boats including optis, lasers and 420s. I have no idea what I am getting myself into, but this has been a theme that I intend to continue to pursue with my life. Passions I have include both sailing and skiing; skiing being the most recent love of my life, but I will write more about that activity at another time.

I intend to write about skiing and more barefoot hiking soon.