To be outdoors

by Kim on July 23, 2012 · 56 comments

On our second night in Zion a huge storm rolled in. Brian and I fell asleep to the rhythm of drizzle on the rain fly above our tent and awoke around four a.m. in the midst of a massive thunderstorm. Lightening lit the sky like an ethereal spotlight and thunder exploded and then echoed off the walls of Zion Canyon.

Sunset on the evening of the thunderstorm

In the morning it was clear that the rain wasn’t going anywhere. We’d wanted to hike The Narrows, a slender section of canyon that can be accessed by wading in the Virgin River, but the flash flood potential was high. With our hopes of hiking dashed we made the decision to pack up camp and relocate. We decided on Sedona, Arizona.

The drive to Sedona took a good chunk of the day and when we arrived I was itching to stretch my legs on a run. The sky was dark and threatening. When Brian pulled up the radar it was splattered with green, yellow and orange blotches which I think means “don’t go running” in layman’s terms. But there wasn’t much that could stop me, certainly not a bit of color on the radar. Brian agreed to go with me mostly because he feared for my life but also because we’d eaten a whole bag of cheddar Sun Chips in the car.

It was only sprinkling as we began our run but the rain fell harder and harder as time passed. Lightening and thunder were present in the distance. About a mile before we were safely back at our hotel the rain began dumping in heavy sheets that smacked us painfully. Lightening struck overhead. “This is kinda fun as long as we survive,” I said to Brian, but before he could reply a huge bolt of lightening lit the sky and thunder boomed an instant later.

I imagined the newspaper headline “Tourists killed while running in lightening storm” and how no one would feel sorry for us because it was such a stupid thing to do. I screamed “Oh God, what should we do?” and Brian yelled back through the pounding rain “JUST KEEP RUNNING!

__________

Some nights in Portland I would drive to my friend Wendy’s after work and we would run five to ten miles up and over Mt. Tabor in Portland’s southeast neighborhood. I loved everything about our runs: the scenery, the good conversation, and the time of day at which they happened.

I wasn’t normally outside during dusk. On a typical evening I’d be at home preparing for the following work day or planted on the couch unwinding from the current one. But during those runs I would remember what a magical time of day dusk is and how much I loved being a part of it. I loved the cool evening air and the warm light and the silent streets and the sounds of the insects chirping and buzzing.

I have dusk back now. Almost every day I am outside during that magical hour when evening turns to night. I have sunrise and mid-day heat and midnight thunderstorms too. I’m not watching the day unfold behind a window anymore. I’m outside participating in it.

I’m uncomfortable almost all of the time. I’m either sweaty or cold or soaked with rain. My shoes fill with dirt and mud and river water. I trip and scrape my knees on rocks. I get stung by bees and bitten by red ants.

I know more about the places that I’m at because I experience them outside. I know that the winds blow into Moab around 7pm and that it cools off considerably around three in the morning. I know that Marmots run wild in the Wyoming backcountry but that they sleep at night just like we do. I know what time the sun rises and what time it sets and where the mosquitoes are bad and how long it takes the alpine glow to disappear after the sun has dipped behind a mountain.

__________

Before I left Portland a friend of mine asked what I wanted out of all of this. When our trip is over, as it one day will be, what is my long-term goal? I told her that what I want is to be able to support myself as a writer so that I can do what I love as a profession and work when I feel most creative and run when the mood strikes and travel outside of the confines of vacation days.

Your answer supports my theory that what everyone wants is simply control over their own schedule,” she said. 

In the months since she made her proclamation I have tried to disprove her theory but I can’t do it. Because I do think that that is what we all want. We want to cook meals and garden and read. We want to spend time with our kids and our parents and our friends. We want to work hard, too, but not at the expense of the things and people we love. We want to sit outside in the evening, every evening if we want to, and watch the sun sink below the horizon. We want dusk back and we want the evening stars.

Sunset in Grand Teton National Park

Now more than ever I feel certain that I will fight like hell and work like crazy to ensure that I can continue to live my life this way.

email-footer

RELATED POSTS:

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda @amandaelsewhere July 23, 2012 at 9:05 am

And your husband’s advice : Just. keep. running.

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Yes- it is wonderful advice, isn’t it?

Reply

Dustin August 7, 2012 at 6:15 am

Brian can safely say that, because his beard keeps him grounded at all times :)

Reply

Carmel July 23, 2012 at 9:45 am

So true. So very true. I’ve had that same complaint before…it’s not like I don’t want to work. I think I’d go crazy if I didn’t do some kind of work the rest of my life, but I want to be the one who decides when and how much. And to be able to benefit from the amount of effort I put in, rather than being rewarded the same 2% as always-takes-extra-long-lunches person over there because of budget cuts.

Our goals are basically the same, but this journey is your own. I agree…just keep running.

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Working hard is one of the rewards in life. It feels great to work hard and to see the fruits of your labor. I love working hard. I REALLY love working hard for myself.

Reply

Patricia GW July 23, 2012 at 9:49 am

The first image you captured of the rainbow is breathtaking. Now that you have not only tasted freedom but made it your everyday life, I have no doubt you’ll work as hard as you need to in order to keep living the way you are now :)

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I get so scared that I am not working hard enough! It is HARD to figure out the proper outlets to work hard in. You know what I mean? It is hard to figure out where to put your efforts. With writing, there is so much hard work for 0 reward- you know? So many queries and no responses… that sort of thing. Keep on keeping on though. No such thing as an overnight success!

Reply

Patricia GW July 24, 2012 at 5:59 am

I understand it’s hard, it’s not so cut-out as a desk job is where the assignments are clear. Working on your own means you’re in charge, and that’s scary sometimes when you want someone to give you some direction what’s the best thing to do. Consider where you were a year ago to now: most people only dream of having a successful blog, but you have crafted one that not only draws in a supportive audience but also have three sponsors backing up your writing. If you keep writing queries, odds are in your favor you’ll get a response. And if you can get one, you can get more! :)

Reply

Carmel July 24, 2012 at 7:56 am

I agree with Patricia here. Writing definitely doesn’t give you the instant reward like a 9-5 job, but that’s not what you want. And you do work hard, whether you realize it or not. It’s just that now it’s fun to work hard–it doesn’t seem like such a chore.

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

It’s true- it doesn’t feel like work- and that is the ultimate goal! But I could work harder. I could and I should. And I WILL!

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Thank you for this, I needed to hear it! First of all, you are right, I am sometimes desperate for direction and have no idea which way to go next. But I just need to remember that the next step will appear when I need it to. Second of all, I have come a long way in a year. I am so impatient and always want things to be the best as soon as possible. I need to work hard and have faith.

Reply

Pamela July 23, 2012 at 10:11 am

Inspiring post! I agree, do what you love, be with the ones you love and generate enough money doing something that you enjoy on your own terms… that is the sweet spot we look for.

Pamela
TheWeegs.com

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

It really is the sweet spot! PS, I just check out your blog. It looks like Brian has a beard rival in your husband!

Reply

Erica July 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

Agreed! Again! All we want is live life the way we choose.. I am sure you’ll make it. And I hope to God, we’ll make it too!

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I hope we both make it Erica!

Reply

Escaping Abroad July 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I just visited Zion and Bryce over the 4th of July holiday. Extremely beautiful and loved the hiking! Don’t miss the Narrows if you can.

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

We couldn’t do the Narrows because of the weather. We’ve added it to our “next time” list. How is it that we are doing everything on our list and yet the list keeps getting longer?!?

Reply

Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) July 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I love this post because I think it so beautifully encapsulates the spirit of these RTW trips: taking the time to truly BE IN the world. Making life an active, not a passive, thing and just reveling in the beauty of what it is to be alive and outside.

I. CAN’T. WAIT. TO. GET. OUT. OF. THIS. BASEMENT!

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

That is beautifully put Steph.
Also, I worked in a basement for years so I know the feeling!!!

Reply

eemusings July 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more.

I get asked a lot about my future goals, being in my early 20s. And I say I really don’t know.

They ask, well, what would you do if money was no object?

I’d do whatever the hell I wanted. That would be the ultimate. Work when I want, doing what I want. Travelling when and where I want. Eating when and where I want.

Reply

Kim July 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm

To do what we want and what we love. Not to be frivolous or irresponsible or lazy but to work tirelessly and passionately at what we love. And to be the best we can be. I work great from about 7am-11am. I love to run around lunchtime. I love to do errands in the afternoon and I love to work again in the evening. I know that about myself. That is the life I want to give myself!!

ENJOY your 20s. The world is your oyster. Never settle and remember that you can become even bigger than your biggest dreams.

Reply

Rhonda July 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm

You hit the nail on the head. That IS what everyone really wants. Congrats, again, on working hard to make your dream life come true!

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Rhonda- it was YOU who said that to me!

Reply

Lindsey July 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Haha reminds me of Finding Nemo. Just keep swimming!

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Ha, totally! It really is the best advice.

Reply

Sunee July 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Lovely post Kim. I love all the imagery and how you notice the natural cycles of the insects and animals around you. It’s true: all anyone really wants is to be in control of their own time and to be able to enjoy friends and nature when they want to. In the end it’s not just about living life, but living it well, and that’s what you get to do now.

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Sunee, you took the words right out of my mouth (actually, I wish I had said them myself but it was you!): It’s not just about living life, but living it well.

Reply

Sarah Somewhere July 24, 2012 at 5:12 am

Wow! This is a wonderful post Kim! I have absolutely NO DOUBT that you will achieve your dream of becoming a paid writer, NONE!!! You’re gifted!!!!! Gifted in taking the inside and translating it into beautiful prose, just like this. You’re writing is a part of you, and because you are beautiful, it is too. Keep going girl, enjoy the journey, I know your dreams are coming into fruition.

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Sarah, thank you. That makes me smile and blush at the same time. I truly appreciate all of the support you have given me over these months. As you know, I have 100% faith in you, too. XO

Reply

Trisha July 24, 2012 at 6:39 am

You got me with “I have dusk back now.” Oh yes, I know how deep that goes! We spent one summer living in a tent on the banks of the Missouri River, where no TV could come close to the programming from Nature. It was absolutely the most memorable summer of my life . . . so far!

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm

So far! I am already mourning the fact that the summer is coming to an end. I think I could live my life in a tent (as long as I could shower regularly).

Reply

Jessica July 24, 2012 at 6:48 am

Last night you and Brian were so vividly in my dream. Unfortunately, we were all back at the apartment and I had left a bunch of boxes and nonessential crap there. We were sneaking away and leaving it all behind. As I read your post today I think you are more than a writer, you are a philosopher and the rest of us hunger for your thoughts.

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Jessica, I love that we were sneaking away and leaving the crap in the apartment!

Thank you so much for your kindness. You gave me a lot of strength in the early days when I was scared out of my mind. I will never forget it!

Reply

Natalie July 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

Having breakfast at the Bright Angel Lodge—–Sounds like you’re not at the South Rim! Lightening, thunder, and rainstorms are wonderous here, too! Ground shook last night! Tent is dry so it all remains a big adventure.
Rim to Rim was amazing. Hope you pull it off this trip. The cloud cover and rain made the hike easier cause it was approx 20 degrees cooler than when the sun appeared. And when the sun was out, the clouds produced lots of shadows on the cliffs……it’s so beautiful down there.
If you ARE on the South Rim and you’d like to meet up, email us. We’re in Mather Campground (no wifi), but we’ll be around the cafes, the Visitor center and other places with wifi. Back to CA tomorrow.
Keep on keeping on! Natalie

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Hello! Nope, we hiked our a day early instead of camping at Indian Garden on our last night. We are in Vegas right now.

We did finish the rim to rim and I agree it was amazing. Thank God for that cloud cover! I don’t know what it would have been like if it had been 115 degrees and sunny.

I’m sorry we won’t get to meet up but enjoy Mather. We camped there one night before catching the shuttle to the north rim.

Reply

Tiffany July 24, 2012 at 10:02 am

Incredible post, as always, Kim :)

So many of the points you made resonate deep within me….the next time I’m faced with indecision, (which happens much more often than I care to admit..) I’ll remember Brian’s advice…. “Just keep running” :)

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Thank you Tiffany :)

Reply

Holly July 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Sedona is one of my most favorite places and running and hiking there are incredible. Have you experienced an energy vortex yet!

fyi – Eddie posted your blog address in the Dispatch so you might get a few more WB folks checking in.

Reply

Kim July 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Where is the energy vortex? We went to one vortex… but I’m not sure it was the “best” one.

It would be great if WB folks followed along!!

Reply

Holly July 25, 2012 at 11:23 am

My impression was the vortexes were where ever you felt them. We stayed at a B & B and people wrote in the guest book where they thought they were. They are suppose to be to be “spiritual locations where the energy is right to facilitate prayer, mediation and healing. They are believed to be locations having energy flow that exists on multiple dimensions. The energy of the vortexes interacts with a person’s inner self.” (a quote from a internet site). Obviously it must be experienced!

Reply

Kim July 27, 2012 at 10:54 am

Hmmm… well, in that case, I’m not sure if I felt one or not… I must go back and seek them out!

Reply

Tyrhone July 25, 2012 at 5:36 am

Hi Kim,

Really liked the point you made in this post, I sometimes get this feeling, like, what if travel doesn’t fill the sweet spot, then what the hell do I do!

Thinking that it is not about what you are doing, but doing what you want, is a sigh of relief. It is not just the travelling which gives us so much joy, but also not having to do all the things which came with our lives before. If the travel ever does get boring for Sarah and I, we will just do something else, problem solved.

Great post, and from one bearded fella to another, congrats to your husband on a great bit of facial hair.

Reply

Kim July 27, 2012 at 10:52 am

Right, it isn’t exactly about travel but in living the way you want to live. For now, that life involves travel for you and Sarah. At some other time perhaps it will involve something else.

Reply

Hannah July 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm

So beautifully expressed Kim, and so true. We have but one life to live, and the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the time and space to live it as we choose. No matter where or how that life may be lived, it will always be yours, as will dusk and the stars xxx

Reply

Kim July 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

Thanks Hannah. I also don’t think that living life the way you want to live is selfish. I know some people think that. But for me, I think living in the way that makes you be at your best is a gift to the world. Imagine if everyone lived that way…

Reply

Ali July 26, 2012 at 7:16 am

Definitely. I definitely want to always have control over my own schedule. After a year of not having a job, 5 months of which I was traveling, it was so hard just to start going to German class every day. I get so irritated at having to give up that extra time I could be sleeping and working on my blog, even though I know it’s important for me to learn the language, and that it’s required by my visa. I’m looking forward to finishing the class (end of January I think) and getting some of that control back.

Reply

Kim July 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

How are the classes going? Is it tough to learn German?! It must be kind of stressful being required to learn it for your Visa! Time flies and January will be here before you know it… then you’ll have your time back and be able to speak German!

Reply

Cheryl Dinan July 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Kim, I enjoy the photos that you and Brian have taken at the parks! I feel as though I am there!! You two take care and keep in touch. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!Love, Mom

Reply

Kim July 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Thanks mom. We had a great anniversary today. We went on a ten mile hike and now we are drinking beer and checking our email. It’s all I need in life! :) Love you and miss you. I’ll call on my birthday.

Reply

Beth Campbell July 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hey Kim,

The pictures you have taken are wonderful!
It feels like I’m actually there! your story’s are inspiring to read,
I too get asked what i would like to do in the future, but still unsure. I do love exploring and seeing what life has to offer.
and i think id do the same when Brian said “Just keep running”…

Keep up the good work. :) Beth

Reply

Kim August 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

Thanks Beth. I’m glad you are enjoying the pictures.

Reply

OurLifeExperiments August 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Great post! Its so interesting to hear your thoughts as you and Brian progress in your adventures. It almost feels like an echo of what Sky and I felt, but never expressed except between ourselves. Running in new places can be extremely rewarding as well, not to mention how it makes the time and miles fly by with all the new scenery! Looks like we’ll be just missing you guys in Portland! We’ll definitely have to meet up soon!

Happy travels!
M&S

Reply

Kim August 6, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hey guys, enjoy Portland. We are here now and loving every second of it.

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 3 trackbacks }