Do you want to climb a mountain, traverse a ravine, or bike across the country, but find yourself doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or changing a diaper? If so, you might want to check out the Dirtbag Diaries podcast to help pass the time. The Diaries are basically campfire tales, told by "dirtbags" (a word used for outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes), about their adventures in the great outdoors. The prose is usually stellar, and the stories inspire, frighten, and, on occasion delve into deeper issues pertaining to the human condition. They also help me to be more productive around the house.
In "A Successful Life", a twenty something and aspiring outdoor writer lands a dream job with National Geographic in Washington D.C. She leaves the mountains of her beloved Oregon for the urban metropolis of our nation's capital. It is the professional opportunity of a lifetime. She loves her new job, but suffers separation anxiety from her native land. The outdoor scene in D.C. just doesn't compare and she is haunted by dreams of wild places and tall mountain peaks. Her frustration builds to a crescendo ending with her resignation and flight across the country back to Bend, Oregon. At the airing of the podcast, she was living out of her car, while looking for a writing job, with no regrets.
Alright, so success and happiness are measured by more than your career. I get that and respect her choice. But what about those who dream of mountains but, for very good reasons, can't quit their job and head for the hills? Are they doomed to frustration until the next opportunity for a vacation presents itself?
Tulsa, Oklahoma can be a difficult place for a dirtbag to live. I struggle with the hot and humid summers, the lack of open space, and a culture that doesn't place a high premium on outdoor recreation. I too dream of tramping around in wild places and look for opportunities to visit them. If it were solely up to me, my backyard would look something like this:
Nevertheless, I hope that longing never blinds me to what is waiting to be discovered, or rediscovered, right outside my front door. I started this blog without any real purpose other than to record my races and outdoor adventures, with occasional beer reviews added to the mix. In many ways it still is that, but I'm also beginning to see a story take shape, one that is still being written. A story that attempts to answer the question: how can I learn to love the land beneath my feet, even if it is a bit flat (culturally and geographically), overdeveloped and punctured by concrete? Here in this land, dirtbags have to look up, down, around, over and under to catch a glimpse at a more elusive beauty, but I like to think that strengthens us in ways that unlimited access to mountains and wilderness might not. For example, perhaps I wouldn't have noticed something like this: