WritingsThoughts, ideas, comments, diatribes, and rambles. A subjective take.
A Letter from Sunrise Camp.
Sometimes, life runs away from you. Too much this, a little more of that, and next thing you know, the horse has bucked the reins and you don’t know where you’re riding off to. This summer has been a roller-coaster ride for me: running my first ultra, applying to medical school, moving, finding success in work, really learning how to ride a mountain bike, and discovering the need for change in my personal life. For a minute there, it got away from me, and I wondered what the hell I was doing with myself, but thanks to the wonder of epiphany, I found a moment of perspective in which I saw the need for change. While climbing through a lonely forest wet with an early rain, stewing in my effort, I saw that I was trying to do too much, and had given too little thought to what was really important to me.
That which is important to me are these: health, ambition, tribe, and adventure. I need a powerhouse of a body to be happy, and it has to be well-fed and well-rested. I draw my daily energy from my ambitions: to make a superlative performance in work and sport, and through these, to inspire and help others. In my ambition, I give birth to adventure which sweeps me up and convinces me time and again that we are not cogs in a hopeless machine. And finally, I need a tribe, a community, to surround me and build with me a world in which we help each other to dream and succeed.
Since that mountain bike ride, I’ve made some changes, most of which have meant saying no to those people, commitments, and opportunities that don’t fuel me. It seems callous to say no and for own well-being cut ourselves free of long-held ties, but if with gritted teeth we make the cut too soon we find ourselves floating higher in the water, moving more swiftly towards our goals unburdened.
I am proud of doing less.
When we do less, we can do more more thoroughly. The thoughtless overachiever may check more boxes from the list, but as accomplishments fall by the wayside they’re forgotten as quickly as undergraduate calculus. Better, I think, to choose your tribe and your path and to feel these selectively and deeply. Those things that we really do imprint themselves on us, and in serving our tribe, we intertwine ourselves with others.
Who is your tribe? Do you surround yourself with the few who inspire you or the many who give you the false confidence of mediocrity? What do you give to the world? For, as my father says, there are no luggage racks on the hearse. A name is forgotten, but the heart entangled with that of others creates a story that extends well beyond the grave.
As the seasons change, summer into fall, I will be drawing close to me those that I care about. I want to give back to those who make my world so wonderful, and I want to practice improving theirs. I hope that you’ll consider joining me.
To my readers, among those who inspire me.
Sunrise Camp, Mt Adams, WA. 05:45, 8/26/13, moments before sunrise.