At one time, I hated to travel.

When I was a wee boy (like 30-years-old), I couldn’t stand traveling.  When I’d travel, I’d constantly worry about what I should be doing at home (working to better my life, I suppose).  Yes, that’s it.  I constantly thought I was missing valuable work time.  I couldn’t enjoy myself on a trip unless I was working on a computer or hanging in a bar, where I did sort of enjoy drinking with natives of other states and countries. Beer makes you forget your troubles.  But, in the morning, after the beer had gotten all sucked up into my muscles and joints and digestive organs, I’d get nervous and crazy about all the time I had lost, not doing what I should be doing… taking care of business. Back home, however, I spent much of my time eating frozen pizzas and watching TV until I couldn’t see straight and then I’d get so angry about all the pizza I’d eaten and the time I’d wasted, that I’d work non-stop for like two weeks until I accomplished it all (but still felt way behind and so deadly exhausted). I was a fairly miserable human being.  Over the years, I got a lot done.  But, I was still fairly miserable.

Something has changed.  Last week while in Arizona, I did this with my son, Leo.

Yes, Leo mountain climbed in a vintage golf hat and Vans.

We climbed a freaking mountain.  I’m serious.  We thought it was just a short hike, but after a while, we were scaling boulders and leaping precipices and hanging by our fingers over cliffs.   It was unbelievably great.  So amazing and vaguely dangerous and fun.  I didn’t think about work for a second. Fantastic.

Earlier in my winter break from teaching, my wife, Steph, and I went to San Francisco to help celebrate a college pal’s 40th birthday.  We ate great food, stayed in a anime-themed hotel (yes — check out Hotel Tomo), walked around all over, and stayed out late into the California night (like 10:30 or something).  Other than me injuring myself in a treadmill accident, it was fantastic.  I loved traveling, being with my great friends, being out there without a schedule… I didn’t think about what work I should be doing.  Not at all.

Pretty Steph in a very sunny San Fran

I’m older and not miserable.  I’m fairly creaky, though.

Youth is wasted on the young?  Is that what I’m getting at?  Maybe?  I had all the capacity in the universe to climb boulders and stay out late back when I was wee.  At the same time, I had no ability to injure myself on treadmills, as I do now that I’m middle aged.   I was young and strong and I was so worried about what I needed to do, I couldn’t enjoy it and I was fairly miserable all the time.  Now I’m not miserable.  Is youth wasted on the young?

No, the desires that drive youth get lots of shit done that needs getting done.  But, I would tell my younger self, my miserable, back in the day, self, to climb some rocks and stay out late with joy and sit in the sand in the sun and to stop worrying all the time.

I know some stuff from having gotten older.  I lost my dad.  I lost my grandparents.  I lost some friends.  Losing people is so terrible.  But… This is weird… I think one of the gifts of aging is learning that life is finite, that you can’t get forever bigger and better.  I’m creaky.  I fall off of treadmills.  I lost my dad.  You better damn believe I’m going to enjoy going up mountains with my son while I can do it.  I’m going to love every second of San Francisco with Steph and my great old pals.

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