The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. That’s just human nature, and in my case, my severe level of FOMO can paint the grass across the way in hypercolor. The trick is learning to appreciate the shade of grass on your side of the fence. Sometimes it’s worth exploring the other side, which takes some guts. Sometimes it takes leaving to realize you actually loved where you were.
I wrote those words almost a year ago, at the peak of what I like to call my restless phase. I recalled them as I realized that right now—finally, for once—the grass was greenest exactly where I am.
I realized it as I was driving the winding dirt road out of the Bugaboos in British Columbia, closing out a weekend in the alpine with good friends capped off with a solo afternoon in the mountains. It wasn’t like I’d done something epic that I was riding the high from. I didn’t go for a long trail run, didn’t climb, didn’t fly off the top of a mountain (for the record, I can’t run yet, hate heights, and have only flown once… but you get the point). I didn’t even summit a mountain. I just hiked up a steep trail with intermittent views to a sort of mediocre alpine lake.
But with the windows down in my truck, the music loud, and the dust rolling out behind me, a wave of complete contentment washed over me. In that moment, I realized I was utterly happy.
I thought a lot about why on that long dirt road. I came to the conclusion that I’m living the life that I want, and that I built for myself.
I have fewer responsibilities that any other person I know in their mid-30s. I don’t own a house. All of my belongings fit in a 5×10 storage unit in Missoula and the back of my truck. I don’t have kids. I don’t even have a dog anymore. I work for myself, making my own hours that involve a healthy balance of working in my pjs, my favorite coffee shops, and an actual office (okay, maybe leaning more toward the pjs). I live in a beautiful place surrounded by new-to-me mountains to explore, by good and creative people, and endless opportunities to expand my limits.
And as my thoughts that day bounced between interviews of kickass women I need to synthesize for a Freeskier story, delivering a piece to Outdoor Research on adventure dating, and chasing down a check from Outside, I finally acknowledged the fact that maybe—just maybe—all my dreams are coming true.
It’s immensely important to note that I didn’t just land in this life. I designed it. I worked hard for it. I’m still working hard for it. I don’t believe the universe just drops things in your lap. But I do believe that if you know what you want and you go after it, maybe the universe sends a little extra love your way to kick things into gear.
(It’s also good to note that not everyone thinks driving a 17-year-old truck down a dirt road, not having any real estate investments whatsoever, and getting excited about low-paying writing gigs is a good life. This is a very specific brand of dirtbag success that few aspire to.)
I also think it’s important to be honest that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns; I still find there are elements missing. I wish I had a partner to share adventures with, and maybe a fully-functioning ankle. I wish my family was closer, because damn, I miss my nephew. I wish my canine soulmate were still sprawled out behind the driver’s seat.
But in that moment of complete contentment, I let myself float in all the good things of the present. I let myself feel that it was more than enough, that I am enough. I wanted that road out of the Bugaboos to last forever (which, at around 40 kilometers, it kind of does).
We don’t say out loud enough when we’re truly happy, so I’m saying it now because I think it helps those moments to come more frequently. Even less do we say out loud when we think we’re enough. And even though that dirt road is long gone at this point, I aim to ride this high for as long as I can into the coming days and let the dust roll out behind me.