Today marks day no. 3 of week no. 4. It's going by so fast. There's always stuff to do. When it comes to hiking and being outdoors its pretty hard to turn the invites down. Sunday evening, after getting back from a long hike I flopped down on this bed of mine, scrolled through the skimm, and had to coax myself to get up and walk (all the way..) to the kitchen to put my leftover quinoa in the microwave for dinner. The struggle was real.
I don’t always have “profound" thoughts, but when I do, they seem to consume 98% of every other thought that passes through my brain and then all of a sudden I have a long string of relating thoughts. For example, I’ve been really into the idea of brand identity. When I walk into a store, I always pay attention to their branding- color schemes, fonts, displays- etc. Now thats not too weird- until I try applying it to my life and when I go to get dressed in the morning, I ask myself if the earnings I am putting on go with my “brand”- most would say “style”, but “brand” extends to all aspects of lifestyle. Anyways, you get the picture. I get really into what I think about.
One of the things I hate most in life is watching the $ add up as I pump gas. You feel good until it gets past $20 and then you’re like “ok. be full already..” and the next 30 seconds you stand there in agony- waiting for the click sound, indicating that your tank is full. So there I was Thursday, after work. Standing at a gas station, pumping gas into Syd and I had this thought. It really is a pain to put gas in my car all the time, but gas pays for experience right? Gas takes me to my internship every morning. It brings be home every evening. And it takes me hiking every weekend. I hate spending money here at this internship when I’m not making any, but I should have no issue (or less of an issue..) paying for gas- or in essence- paying for an experience.
Saturday morning, bright and early, I found myself in the middle seat of a Jeep Liberty, driving towards the mountains with four other interns. We laughed, listened to someone’s throw-back playlist, and enjoyed the beautiful view outside the car’s windows. Just as we were in the middle of nowhere, wondering where exactly we were headed, our phone’s began blowing up from the group chat. The other intern’s cars- supposably headed to the same trailhead as we were- were stuck in traffic somewhere:
Marian: Anyone else stuck in traffic?
Matt: yah :/
Mara: yep ;p
Marian: Matt… You’re in my car
We re-routed the gps and continued on in search of civilization. Just as we were loosing hope of finding this town with a trailhead, we saw, on the gps, that there was a town straight ahead. There was hope. An old, tattered, sign for a cafe stood at the entrance to this “town”, and a sign with an arrow pointing straight ahead to the “post office” was a few feet beyond it. Quickly we realized that this was not the place we were looking for. Every building in this town was square-ish shaped, wooden and one story. There was no sign of life- minus the random deer which appeared to be strolling out of one of the homes. Finally, what looked like a little park in the middle of town- featured a human skeleton holding the reigns to the skeleton of a deer. I am not kidding- I felt like we were driving through the movie set of an old western horror film.
Needless to say we got there. The hike to the swimming hole was relatively short and we were greeted by the sound of music blaring over a bluetooth speaker, the stench of pot and beer, and the chanting of “three, two, one”… and then a loud smacking sound. The people jumping off the 20-30 ft. cliff were about our age. The were super friendly to us and helped us find a spot to park ourselves where we could observe the brave cliff-jumpers. The reactions we got when we told them we were Focus on the Family interns though- were priceless.
Yes. I jumped. No. I did not die (nor did anyone else that day). We got rained out less than 15 minutes after I jumped. Since the swimming hole was only about 13 ft. deep, I jumped with my hiking boots on, and hiked out of Paradise Cove barefoot, wearing nothing but a swimsuit and soaking wet flannel. Its a good thing we all like each other, because none of us were looking (or smelling) too prime on that car ride back.
That night (after a well-needed shower) I drove up to Monument- which is in North Colorado Springs- for a movie night at one of the other intern’s host family’s home. We watched “The Princess Bride”, ate raw cookie dough, and quoted all the cheesy lines. As I was driving home, enjoying the cool air blow through Syd’s rolled down windows, I realized once again, how blessed and happy I was. I had spent zero extra dollars, but was making memories that would last forever. Driving through a sketchy town with friends, the thrill of jumping off of a cliff into cold Colorado water, laughing and joking during an old movie- those things are priceless.
Sunday I went to a mega church. Now when I say mega church- I mean MEGA church. When I googled “New Life” to get directions Sunday morning, the top result boasted of a church with over 10,000 members. Now usually I don’t care for huge churches. It feels impersonal and often a little showy. This church was different though. While the worship leaders were clearly talented, they weren’t there to entertain. And the pastor- he was so chill. Funny, real, honest. You could say I was pretty impressed. To me, it was a wake-up call to not always be so skeptical of churches- whether that be based on denomination or size or appearance. Its not about statistics and definitions when it comes to church. Your definition of a church is based on your own encounter with God in that church.
After church a small group of us drove out to the Crags- which are rock formations surrounding Pikes Peak. This hike was perfect. There was the steep parts, but there was also a good amount of flat hiking. Along the way we stopped to take pictures and scale huge boulders. I made a vow to myself a couple years ago that I would never free-climb something that could be fatal if my hand slipped- even if I knew I could do it. Well, I must have forgotten that vow temporarily or the idea of a super cool picture must have been too appealing in the moment because for what seemed like the longest 20 seconds of my life, I clung tightly to the edge of a 50ish ft. boulder, realizing I couldn’t reach the hand-hold that the 6 ft. guy who had climbed ahead of me had grabbed. I calmly asked for a hand and was pulled up over the rock. Nothing like a friend to the rescue.
We spent a few minutes at the peak of Crags, looking out over the mountains and admiring the beauty surrounding us. Unfortunately we didn’t stay long because a storm was quickly approaching and we ran back to the entrance in less than an hour. As I looked out the window on that drive home, I was reminded once again how I can get so much fulfillment out of a day without spending an extra cent. I felt, in that moment, that if everyone could get this much joy from being outdoors, with friends, spitting sunflower seed shells out of their mouths on the trails, the world would be a better place.
Now, as I mentioned above, I sometimes get pretty obsessed with my ideas and thoughts. I’m sure my statement above about finding fulfillment by being in nature with people sounds kind of hippie-ish, and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with shopping with your friends, going to the movies, or going to half-price apps at AppleBees. But I really do think that when I “pay for an experience”- with my time (and gas $)- it almost always is more memorable than when I pay a lot for something materialistic.
So… food for thought. What “experiences" are you paying for? and is what you’re experiencing worth whatever investment you’re making?