Monday, February 02, 2009

If I don't die or worse I'm gonna need a nap

I followed old snowshoe tracks up the steep face of Mount Jumbo. It may have been my phantom trail. It may have been someone else's. New snow had filled the holes, but a faint dotted line still cut a clear path through the forest. The trees were candy-coated top to bottom in snow. Avalanche danger was high, but I felt safe beneath 30 and 40-foot canopies, trees so big that any avalanche save for the Apocalypse would have to cut a similarly skewed path.

I was listening to Ani Difranco and reminiscing the carefree days of college when I began to notice a new theme cutting through my nostalgia. I never noticed it before, but Ani Difranco often sings about gravity ...

"We can't fight gravity on a planet that insists
that love is like falling
and falling is like this."
~"Falling Is Like This"

I tried to shake the feeling of dead weight off my snowshoes, but it was quickly working its way up my legs. The mountain angled steeper and the snow cut deeper, but I kept trudging. Why ... sometimes I'm not really sure. These are the hours of the day and these are my habits. I'm happy with them, most of the time. But sometimes, it's true, I feel oppressed by the gravity of my own routine, my own goals. I stopped walking and started flipping forward through the songs on my iPod, listening to my heart pump hot lead through my arteries as clumps of snow from high branches plopped down beside me. The faint trail rose like a wall. Gravity can often seem so oppressive, can become such an anchor, but where would we be without it? Static molecules hung in outer space.

I realized that I liked the way my molecules came together. Gravity is what makes me, me. I decided I could take a little more of the climb. And, anyway, the longer I stood still, the more I became a target for the snow bombs raining down from the trees.

"We make our own gravity to give weight to things.
Then things fall and they break, and gravity sings.
We can only hold so much is what I figure.
Try and keep our eye on the big picture,
picture keeps getting bigger."
~"Hour Follows Hour."

I had the big talk with my boss today. In an amazing twist of mutual negotiation, we both left the meeting smiling. The long short of it is I may (under final approval of the corporate overlords and Geoff) take the new job temporarily. Help head up the new design team, train any new employees, work on reshifting the freelance budget and solicit new content while balancing the budget and axing unnecessary costs. Things which I may or may not be any good at, but which, for a short interim period, may be fun to try.

Then, in late-April, with the blessing of my boss, Geoff and I will hit the road south and (hopefully) set up living quarters in a dry cabin near Teasdale, Utah. We plan to be away from Alaska for several months. Geoff is going to train for a half-dozen or so ultramarathons. I'm going to live the dream - riding my mountain bike in the Boulder Mountains, Capitol Reef, far points beyond, building up heat and elevation acclimation and something like ultra-fitness. My ultimate goal is something that I'm not quite yet ready to commit to and therefore not yet ready to solidify on my blog, but something which is probably becoming obvious by now.

Hard? Extremely. Too much to take on? Probably. The best of both worlds? As much of a balance as I'm probably ever going to find.

After that is exactly that - the big, heavy unknown.

"They can call me crazy if I fail,
All the chance that I need
is one in a million,
and they can call me brilliant
if I succeed.
Gravity is nothing to me,
moving at the speed of sound.
Just gonna get my feet wet
until I drown."
~Swan Dive


  1. nice post, jill. it'll all work out :)

  2. I'm glad to hear that you got to an agreement and can follow your interests. I think most people go through the struggle of career vs other interests and most end up bowing to the career at the expense of the latter. It happens to the extent that passion for anything else dies out and the only thing left is work. Of all things, I'm deathly afraid of being dispassionate.

    Keep on climbing!

  3. Snow bombs! Love it! I always wondered what to call those clumps!

    That sounds so exciting! I'm wondering if you'll keep posting once you move to your cabin??? I hope so!

  4. Sounds like a great of luck...=-) It's much better to fail on your own terms than succeed on someone else' course succeeding on your own terms is best of all!

  5. Hmmm, do I smell the great divide race in your training plan? Enjoy the mountains and warm weather.

  6. That's a great post, Jill. Love those songs, and love your plans. I used to live and work in Capitol Reef, and I'm so envious of your coming time there. It's wonderful!

  7. ah, compromise. Yay! Also, I have a book recommendation for you, kin to your own effort:

  8. Hi Jill - enjoyed your book! I am struggling with the same career vs. passion pursuit as well. I jumped head first into a consulting career and now I am trying to go back the other way. Best of luck with your decisions! ...spent part of our honeymoon on a road trip out in Teasdale. I find it oddly tranquil - only 'oddly' as we had the same person 'pop up' working, behind-the-counter, at three different commercial establishments---much like twin peaks.

  9. Good luck! I too am making a radical career change next month (don't know how financially smart it is) but I need to do it for my sanity. Couldn't pick a better place than Utah (well, up there anyway). Maybe I'll see Geoff and you at HR?

  10. Sounds good. It's all downhill from here! And if you are late getting to Banff for the start of the big one you can just catch the next race leaving town.

  11. I wonder what will happen to us in the First World when choices evaporate and there is only a continuation of the present? When we in effect become Cubans, tied to an economy that offers only binary choices, to have or to have not. To give up a job when half a million a month are losing theirs involuntarily is an act of...? I'm not sure what, faith one hopes. Ah Youth. Pass the Bottle.

  12. Sounds like the best of both worlds to me, Jill. I sure hope to still see you in Whitehorse in June, but I can understand if that doesn't work out. And yes...I am thinking it sounds like GDR? Congrats on moving forward!

  13. I like my molecules too, to bad there's too many of them - junk in the trunk - pedal power!

  14. Call me crazy, but Trans rockies etc sounds too...small for you. Maybe trans Valles Marineris (sp)? That might be epic enough. Maybe Obama could get you a flight?

  15. I'm glad you could work out something with your employee that served you both...there's real integrity in that. Another bridge unburned is very smart -- though you may not know it for years. At least, that's been my experience.

  16. You want to have a child. That's it isn't it?

  17. So as you push off from the shore,
    Wont you turn your head once more and make your peace with everyone ?.

    For those who choose to stay,
    Will live just one more day
    To do the things they should have done.

    And as you cross the wilderness, spinning in your emptiness
    You feel you have to pray.

    Looking for a sign
    That the universal mind has written you into the passion play.

    Skating away on the thin ice of the new day.

    And as you cross the circle line, the ice-wall creaks behind
    You're a rabbit on the run.

    And the silver splinters fly in the corner of your eye
    Shining in the setting sun.

    Well, do you ever get the feeling that the story's
    Too damn real and in the present tense ?.

    Or that everybodys on the stage, and it seems like
    You're the only person sitting in the audience ?.

    Skating away.
    Skating away.
    Skating away, on the thin ice of a new day.

  18. Ah Jill, you're both crazy and brilliant for trying.

  19. I'm glad things worked out! Sounds like you have the best of both worlds.

  20. Well, if you can get by financially for those months, why not! Sounds to me like you have in mind the capital divide.

    Nonetheless, you are young, talented, and if the time away drives you back to work, you WILL have options.


  21. Cool! I'm looking forward to following your progress.
    Good luck.


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