Another day in Adventureland!
Yes, there has been a Grand Canyon theme to these columns since August. Ironically, a final thought about the river trip that’s pestering me is how soon it is forgotten.
Not long ago I considered the other 19 expedition members like family, but now we hardly talk to each other. Apparently the routines of our regular lives have already pulled us back into the rat race, as if we never left. At least that’s the case with me.
How spoiled am I? Living in this valley, it’s easy to take adventures for granted. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my mindset is back to so many of its old ways: work is a drag and I can’t wait for the next thing, and the thing after that. You’d think I should be satisfied to plug and chug for a while after kayaking the Grand Canyon only six weeks ago.
Not only that, I’ve since had an overnight river trip on Westwater and a climbing trip to Utah as well. Yet I still catch myself rolling my eyes at the idea of mundane work obligations. It seems the more I get, the more I want.
I am very good at ruminating on things I don’t have. That perspective can be flipped with some practice, though.
The other day at the dog park, it dawned on me that picking up dog turds with a little plastic bag is actually kind of fun.
First is the hunting element. It’s not easy to find a brown jewel in a field of wet, decaying wild grass, so it’s satisfying when I doo…
I’ll see the dog pooping in the field 100 feet ahead. I see the general location but it is easy to lose sight of the precise spot as I walk closer. I also have to keep my eye peeled so I don’t step in other droppings that have been left, camouflaged in the grass – or even the one I’m seeking, for that matter. That means shifting my focus from far to near and back to far. It’s a practice in total awareness.
I don’t always find what I’m looking for, even after trying very hard. Such was the case the other day, but I found a bigger, nastier dookie and picked that up.
Next is the funnest part – throwing the tied-off bag into the small, covered opening of a trash can 10 feet away as I walk by. The bag flies like a Foxtail, which is essentially a tennis ball shoved into the bottom of a sock. A person can whirl it around by the tail and release it at a high velocity, which increases range and, sometimes, accuracy. It’s a good feeling to hit the flap on the trash can dead-center, making a basket: THUNK!
Flinging the bag into the can is also exciting because there is a possibility that there could be some minor, unpleasant consequences if I miss. Nothing grabs the human attention span like the potential for real consequences.
Excitement in the mundane doesn’t end there, though. Heck no.
I put my hunter-gatherer instincts to the test while cleaning the fish tank. I had to catch seven, fast little fish in a 20-gallon tank. The fake log and other objects were removed first so they wouldn’t have a place to hide, but then they had more room to swim.
A few fruitless minutes passed stalking the fish with my little net, which they easily darted around. I paused and reassessed. The fish swam right into the net once I used it in conjunction with a one-gallon pitcher.
Ultimately, when I feel most spoiled is when I consider how frequently I dismiss the quality of my routine life. Yes, there are always work stresses and relationship struggles. However, there is a reasonable certainty every morning that I will still have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and loved ones to share it with by the time the sun sets, and even long after that.
Not only that, I still have fresh memories of very real adventures and a great possibility that there are more to come.
Many of us in this valley are lucky for the elite lifestyles we get to live, especially considering how many of us are able to do so with modest incomes.
We don’t have to travel – we live in Adventureland!
– “Open Space” appears on the second and fourth Friday of the month. Derek Franz writes for the Eagle Valley Enterprise and lives in Carbondale. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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