I was content to sleep in the parking lot of a tire shop in New Paltz until morning when my car had broken down last spring. But a friend jokingly yelled at me, “Grown-ups don’t sleep in their cars!” and convinced me to come have a glass of wine and sleep in a bed, instead.

The wine and company were much appreciated. The house I stayed in was nestled away in the quiet woods, a short jaunt to the Gunks cliffs. I had never stayed anywhere quite so nice, not to mention that it was equipped with extra bedrooms for dirtbags like me (and even an outdoor shower!) It would be a lie if I said that I didn’t feel a small sense of shame, surrounded by beautiful things with my car on its last breath, refrigerator at home unstocked, and bank account severely close to being in the red (again). “I’m the worst at adulting!” I sobbed to myself.

Sometimes living in NY is hard for me because I am constantly meeting professionals my age, and all I can think about is how I feel like I have so much further to go. I wonder that it’s even possible some days. Unfortunately, I can’t live in parallel dimensions for too long. There are those who get to high places fast, but for others, well, it’s more of an experiential thing. What I came up with is that we will all measure our success differently, that is for sure. There are lots of people who get their lives on track right away, and I’ve always been envious. But if at any point in my life I had known exactly what I wanted to get out of it, I don’t know that I would have ever found climbing.

Belaying Elliot on You Big Dummy (5.11d). Photograph by Nick Lanphier

Contrast is what defines us, that and experience. Need the dark and light. Sweet and bitter. And may your life be all the richer for it.

Things I thought while walking Shooter this morning: Keep speaking your mind and being honest with others and yourself. It keeps you on a good path. Keep taking life as it comes and let your desires bring you closer to the unknown—because it’s bound to be full of all of the things you love. Don’t be so afraid of missing out on what could have been and what you don’t have, and don’t be afraid of holding tighter what you do.

And Shooter walks faster than me because she has four legs.

Photograph by Nick Lanphier

Life is never going to stop being scary, but lately, I’m finding that I don’t really need much beyond whimsy and peace, laughter and love, friends and family. I’m not in a rush to grow up and hurry past all of my mistakes anymore, and instead, embracing the lessons if I can find them.

My successes in life are being measured by campfire dinners, summer swims in rivers, and in pitches climbed, miles driven, and cars slept in…in takes and falls and sends. I am successful because I am happy doing all of these things.

Photograph by Nick Lanphier

Maybe I am growing up.

But please don’t tell anybody.

4 thoughts

  1. This is quite an entertaining read and you definitely got me hooked on the title. Life is truly quite an adventure and I’d be so lucky to even have gone through half of your adventures. Thanks for sharing this with us. Any plans on being a full-on grown up anytime soon? I hope not.

  2. What a great piece! I often find myself a bit caught between being the free spirited person inside of me or getting my life on ‘the right track’. Do you really believe in this track? If it really brings people happiness or if it really even exists at all? Would love to hear your thoughts!.
    Thanks again for the great piece!

  3. Thank you for this short read. I’m a 34 year old single male who thinks he finally found his place in the world. Between mountain biking and skiing and my new love for climbing , not owning a house and having a solid career isn’t a hindrance but a opportunity to keep exploring.

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