What I Want vs What I Need: Lessons 5 Months Later…


Five months ago yesterday, I first arrived in Seattle. It was a decision spurred by many factors: the wanting to climb, the wanting for adventure, the feeling of being out of place in Miami, a falling out, there were so many things that were telling me “you don’t belong here, you’re meant for bigger things. Higher places.” So with anxiety, fear, and having no real objective whatsoever, I made my nest more than 3,000 miles away from the place i’d known as home for 20 years. It’s had its good and its bad, there have been days where i’ve shouted from the tops of mountains, there’s been days where I’ve wanted to pull my hair out, there’s been a whole set of new friends, relationships, victories, and frustrations. But when I look back on these past 5 months, I’ve realized something: I was living a life obsessively guided by want and not enough by need. I’ve learned to take value in simple things, how having a single unique object can mean the world, and of course in my sport, it’s required to have the necessary equipment, but I’ve learned to live on the basics, and it’s made life simpler, and more enjoyable. So i’m going to speak off the cuff, this is about how having less can mean so much more.

When I first arrived to Seattle, I panicked. I moved into a house with seven other people and my instinct told me “you’re not going to survive two months here.” I arrived having no clue about how to live on the cheap. I’d saved money, but my mentality that carried over told me I needed to spend to survive. So I wore the thing I hate most, a business suit, and I went looking for what would sustain me, that cushy office job which would give me the power to move up and on and make my living here. After three months of pumping out resumes, going to interviews, getting turned down one after another, things started to dwindle down. I was exhausted running from one fruitless interview to another. I work from home, independently, and it gives me an extreme sense of freedom. I didn’t need to rush, wasn’t in trouble, wasn’t desperate, just a little scared.

Once things had settled and I started spending more time outside, something became very clear: Why couldn’t I take that minimalist approach in the outdoors and apply it to my life in the city? With that mind blowing realization, I began to change things around. Suddenly I didn’t wear my clothes for how they looked, I wore them for their practicality. My hiking boots have become my all day best friend. I’ve learned that some of the best times i’ve had out here have been the weekend nights cooking and laughing with my roommates in the kitchen and simple nights spent in watching a movie or just talking. Does that mean that I haven’t treated myself to go out? No, there have been nights where I want to go out, check out a cool restaurant, walk around the city, but the less needlessly complicated it is, the more I seem to get out of it.


So where does the ‘need’ come in? Obviously I need the basic necessities: food, things to keep clean with, and coffee. After that initial freak-out in the first months, I dwindled it down to what I came here for: The climbing. Yeah, i’ve bought myself the occasional piece of new gear. I’ve spent on carpooling on climbing trips, the food to sustain me, new shoes and the camera to document it all. I’ve spent money on a gym and someone to help me get into climbing shape. I think what i’ve gotten from this is that occasionally I have to remind myself that this is what I really came out here for. This wild dream wasn’t going to be without its faults, the stumbles, and the occasional misguided mind. The way I think about it was that this wasn’t just a move. This is an adventure. It comes with as many back steps and re-evaluations as any outdoor journey.

So the question now is where does it go from here? After a short trip back home to Miami to visit some family and friends, I’ll be heading into my first alpine trip, the climbing on the big peaks that first inspired me so many years ago. I’m going to take the little opportunities that I can, i’m going to continue making the work and the sacrifices, and i’m going to continue making every moment as down to earth and simple as possible. If there’s one lesson I would want to teach after these five months it would be to make the best out of the smallest things. To take pleasure out of having the basics and most importantly of all, to live life guided through passion and through experiences, not through having the most or the best or the newest. I’ll be back soon with some great new stories, some exciting trips coming up, I just wanted the moment to get some words out. Be simple, and dream big.

4 thoughts on “What I Want vs What I Need: Lessons 5 Months Later…

  1. Mike, this is a great post! I love it.
    I moved to Boulder nearly 1 year for similar reasons in general. I had no clue what was to happen, but I knew that when I got here, I’d have to dive in, and make a life. That goes for business, to learning new sports (I’ve taken up climbing and LOVE it!), to making friends, to establishing routines and habits. I came out here to live it right.

    So, I get where you’re coming from, and I like where you’re going!

    Cheers my friend, to the adventure of life and the outdoors! Looks like we’re both pretty obsessed with the two! 🙂

    – Lauren (@outdoor_minded)

    1. It was a combination of things from graduating, to figuring things out, the having some things in my life go the other way than I wanted, and then Rainier happened and it changed so many perspectives for me about what I was capable of doing, and after that everything made sense. Thank you so much for the tremendous support 🙂

  2. “So with anxiety, fear, and having no real objective whatsoever…” Hence my reason for just picking up and walking whenever I don’t know what to do. Now, I just want to cover mileage. So I signed up for my 1st marathon. Then hope to one day say I did a 100mi. for the hell of it. 😉

    Nice job on taking lead. How is Seattle? I’ve often thought of doing the same but to Portland or Colorado.

    1. Seattle is beyond amazing. The outdoor life, the people, the city itself, having the mountains right there, it’s definitely been the right choice. If you have a place where you feel right and where home might be, than go for it, by all means go for it!

      Congrats with your marathon!!! That’s awesome! Just pick up and run! 😀

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