Why Aren't You Going to Patagonia?

For the past seven years my life has been defined by its one constant: going to Patagonia, where my heart is, for one to four months to pour my energy out into the valleys until it reaches the brink of the mountain peaks.

The people I have met have changed my life.  They have accepted me despite my eccentric faces, horribly endless stream of jokes, and restlessness that leaves me hitting the hills come rain or shine.  Rainy days are trail days, sunny days are climbing days.

But I've noticed a trend every time I come home.  People expect me to leave.  My friends think I'm gone even when I'm home.  Most people, even in my family, refer to me as a mountain climber.  This is true.  But it makes me think of how I've completely forgotten the other things I used to be defined as, inwardly and socially.  Where has math gone?  Where has Chinese gone?  Where has filmmaking gone?  I miss memorizing digits, speaking new foreign languages and being creative.  I've been working whatever jobs I can that allow me 4-6 months off for years now, betraying my studies for the mountains.  While there is no single regret in there, I don't want my brain to be idle while my body gets all the fun.  This year, I've decided to stay in the northern hemisphere and turn my attention to more intellectual pursuits.

I'm no longer obsessed with the mountains, just in love with them.  They'll be there in a year when I'm ready to go back and show them how much I missed them.

I'm not being completely honest, either, if I don't mention another reason I'm not rushing down south this year.  I've been rushing the last seven years, always planning and looking ahead, hurrying to get to the next objective in the project.  I finished a lifetime goal and was nominated for the Piolet d'Or, which is ridiculous because I'm not a talented climber, just very stubborn, determined and passionate. I'm easily inspired.  In the photo below, there are maybe 10 people at the Trinidad Bivy Boulder, all inspiring individuals like Grant Simmons.

 Before then the same year it was just my dad and I there.

And before that, years prior, no one.

The landscape is still beckoning and it'll be there in a year.  What concerns me is the rush I felt.  I felt it in the Bugaboos this year, and I still feel it, but now I recognize it for what it is: going all chips in.  If the cards are in your favor, great.  But I've had too many close calls to go in blind.  I've lost too many great people in my life this last year.  Cory Hall, Nick Heyward, Kyle Mattingly, Brian Delaney.  I'd like to reflect a little more this winter, strap on some skates, and look at the ice that reflects and brings me back to childhood.  I remember when I was five closing my eyes on the hill at our house and consciously making a memory of the moment telling myself that I wouldn't forget how good that moment was.  I need to consciously remember more.  And keep friends like these close.

So why aren't I going to Patagonia?  It's not a project anymore.  It's not a life-long goal.  It's a dream. Every time I go to bed I go to Patagonia.  Next year I'll wake up there.  But for now, I have some things to attend to elsewhere.

Be safe out there, and if you do make it to Bariloche, AR or Cochamo, CH, give everyone there my love.

Your Landescaper,


Whit Fox said...

Well said, Nate. Totally and completely valid feelings about coming and going and staying. Really, we're always coming and going. The staying is the hard part, the being in the moment (and truly being) is the hard part.