Lately, what with a sometimes-mundane job and more of a routine life than what I experienced working on Raisin’ Roots Farm, I have felt the closing of possibilities. I have felt the rising of an old inner voice telling me I have hit a dead end, that I never should have quit my job in Kansas City and moved to Colorado on some sense of deep intuition. That’s why I’ve been posting less here. This blog started as an embrace of limitless possibilities; living in relative routine, I feel I have abandoned those possibilities.
But nothing is stuck.
I work at the front desk of a gym in Loveland, CO. I clean equipment, do laundry, fold towels, and address all arising needs of members. I make $10.20 an hour. I spend my ample spare time studying as much as possible for my personal training certification, which I hope to achieve by the end of February. The paradigm has begun to feel closed. But a fellow named Dave has helped change that.
Dave is in his mid-60s and comes to the gym almost every day. He does light rehab work for a recurring leg injury. Somehow, my writing ambitions came up, and he got to telling me about his past.
Dave made a career as a sports photographer. His predominant clients were Time and Sports Illustrated. He has photographed athletes in a huge diversity of sports, including diverse Olympic athletes competing during the Olympic Games. His career has taken him all across the world to encounter countless larger-than-life athletes and an incredible assortment of wild tales along the way.
When he shares his stories, no shred of ego is present. Dave tells me his stories with exuberance and conviction not to impress, but rather to teach. He communicates from a perspective of love and gratitude, He says his path fell into place too perfectly to be an accident. He says it’s part of a larger plan, God’s plan, that he followed by listening and trusting. Nothing about it has been expected. He’s so happy for the life he’s lived and continues to live through teaching seminars and serving as a Nikon ambassador—aka trying out cool new photographic technology and reporting back details of performance.
As much as he shares stories of his past, Dave inquires into my interests. He engages the possibilities of writing. When I told him I’m being drawn to “Gonzo-style writing,” his eyes lit up as he said, “Like Hunter S. Thompson?!” He then went on to tell me about the time he saw Hunter S. at a bar Aspen; out of respect, Dave did not approach. Instead of seeing why my writerly ambitions wouldn’t work, as my thoughts have lately dictated, Dave engages a stream of imagination about how I might use writing to travel and experience the world. He tells me to pitch everyone. He encourages me to imagine as broadly as I can what I might do on behalf of a magazine or company. And most importantly, he reminds me not to think of what I might get. He says, “Think about what you might give.”
As excited as I am to learn about the body and train clients, my spirit is far more energized at the prospect of experiencing the world and reporting back. Maybe I’ll hitchhike Route 66 and report on its contemporary condition for Outside magazine. Maybe I’ll join a conservationist trek through the Amazon for National Geographic. Or Time. Or some place I’ve never heard of. What do I have to lose in pitching ideas? Far, far less than I have to gain.
Dave recommended I go to a Barnes & Noble, scan the magazine section, and find editors to contact. He told me to get imaginative and specific with my pitches. Yesterday, I decided to do just that. I’ve desired for some time now to interview Rolf Potts, my favorite contemporary travel writer and seemingly all-around good guy, and so with Dave’s spirit, I figured, Why not pitch the interview to some magazines? I found about seven. I’ve since gotten in contact with Rolf, who has been enthusiastic and remarkably helpful in getting a pitch off the ground. I’ve pitched one magazine so far; should it not pan out, I will continue sending the pitch around until it does. Rest assured, I will update this blog to reflect this development.
Dave’s authenticity and spirit have done wonders to revitalize my energy about possibilities in life and writing. Anything can happen, should one pursue the vision with confidence and determination. There’s so much happening in this country that Donald-Trump-reality obscures. I want to shine a light on those things. Any street corner, or any seemingly-mundane day on the job, can alter the unfolding of a life.
Every day, driving to and from work, I get to look at these incredible mountains. Every time I start work at 4:45AM, I get to see the sun rising over distant I-25 and sweeping across the sky to reflect the clouds in fuchsia over the snowy peaks. Each time, I am reminded of the possibilities they promise, the possibilities that drew me out here without any solid game plan. I am so glad for the unexpected ways it’s all continuing to develop.
*Check out Dave’s Instagram page, where many of his incredible photos are displayed.