The echo of my steps reverberated across the trail. I’ve never been able to take running seriously but today I had a steady rhythm, a great pace, arms loose, counting each breath, every single thought of the last few days racing through my mind, and somehow today I was an expert. I broke out of the forest into the meadow under bluebird skies and ran along the cliffside over Elliot Bay, a white mist settling along the edges of the horizon and obscuring the mountains and the islands. I kept my eye on the ferry’s and sailboats as they crisscrossed across open water until I ran up the last hill and down the stairway that led to the beach. I opted to run on the sand, as it sunk under my shoes giving me extra friction and motivation to run towards the lighthouse in the distance. That was my midway, that was where I was going to sit and think things out. For the first time in three months I had that Friday to myself, and I had the freedom to start things over.
“It was a tough decision, but we’ve decided to terminate your employment.”
That’s how my professional year started and in some aspects, it was wholly welcomed. There were no scenes of drama, no tears or anger, just a few signatures, a trip to get everything off my desk, and ideas first uncertain under my ten vacation day a year policy now absolutely defined. I took a job making outbound calls, the kind where you’re surrounded by four small walls and where you need the personality and the tact to succeed. I applaud those who can and who are successful at it but it’s not how I saw myself. I learned a tough lesson that’ll follow me through life: You can’t force passion, especially if it’s not the thing that you’re going to be doing everyday. My passions are writing, literature, photography, and the outdoors and thats where I want my career to be.
I had no reason to sit around and sulk so after firing off some resumes, I decided to make the most of my newfound free time and try to complete my first full trail run across Discovery Park, a 2.8 mile path that runs along Puget Sound and culminating at the tip with that lighthouse on the beach offering a view of Rainier on one side, Baker on the other, and all the glory of the Olympics in one spectacular panorama. I thought about that lighthouse as a metaphor for where things were going: I Avoided hitting a place where I was going to be completely unhappy and being directed back out into the open instead. The reason I love running through here is because it’s expansive and feels like an oasis removed from the city. The forest runs deep and the only sound coming from the shore are the waves crashing against the rocks under the lighthouse, the birds, and the occasional seal that comes to rest on the beach. In a single day I felt like I had rediscovered that sense of adventure that had been missing.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of taking two friends on their first hike of the Pacific Northwest. Opting for an easier trail, Rattlesnake Ledge just 40 minutes out of Seattle, it offered stunning views of the Cascades and Snoqualmie Pass which set the bar for the rest of the year. It’s an easier 4 mile trail with a gradual uphill that wasn’t too tough on the legs and although the trail was crowded for the most part, we came across clear sections where the low winter sun shot through the branches and even at mid-day covered the path in a spectacular afternoon light. I love taking people on trails for the first time, love the reactions when my mountains are in clear view and with that it makes me realize how incredibly lucky I am to be in the place that I am despite the events of the last week.
I’ve come to a point now where the mountains and spending time outside are the only certainties in life right now. Although it wasn’t the ideal way to start the year, it is giving me a clear sign: You weren’t meant for this. My dream is a line of work that falls in line with my passions and that’s what I’m looking for. In the meantime I can concentrate on writing, photography, catching up on the books and people who first inspired me and keeping mind and body active.
This is a year started in uphill.
But I’m a climber, and uphill is my specialty.