My whole life has kind of been weird.
I moved every couple years, I was just a passing member of other peoples lives. Some people stuck around, most I never talked to again. I was the new kid at least eight times going through elementary, middle, and high school, across several states and dozens of schools. I was obsessed with baseball, specifically the Red Sox. I came from a close family, that raised me really well thankfully, so I never had desires to go out and party, get caught with drugs, wrap my car around a telephone pole, talk to girls, or any of that classic American teenage type stuff. I just really loved baseball, and the other stuff just kind of slid to the side.
College had been going ok for the most part. It’s miserable sitting in a classroom listening to some tenured teacher push their minimal effort lesson plan onto us as our personal debt climbed higher and higher, but I got into the social scene much more than I did in high school, went to a few parties, did “cool kid” stuff, got in trouble, all that. But at the end of the day, I was there to play baseball.
I’d been outdoorsy-ish for some time, I loved fishing with my dad and liked going hunting with him just for the joy of being forced to enjoy the sunrise while sitting in a cold metal tree stand in mid-November. But I never really did my own thing. I didn’t have time. Baseball owned every second of my life from the age of 5 until the sand in the hourglass ran out last fall. I didn’t even go hiking by myself for the first time until my freshman year of college in 2013, and that was just to get some time away from a really bad relationship I was stuck in.
But I eventually did more and more things on my own. That one hike to get away from all the drama a bad relationship provides turned into a hike a month to get away from all the stuff at school that bugged me. Then it became twice a week. Then I went up one of the tougher 3,000 footers in New Hampshire on Cinco de Mayo 2014 (that’s May 5th for you gringos) with nothing but a pair of basketball shorts and a pair of hiking boots from Goodwill. I slipped and slid my way up and down the still ice encapsulated Chocura Mountain, almost sliding the entire 3,000 feet down multiple times, and got back to my car after nine miles in disbelief that I actually did that and didn’t die. I got a text from a buddy asking how the hike went, and I sent him three pages describing every detail. He didn’t text back, but that’s not important, the spark was beginning to light.
That summer, I went up Katahdin for the first time with my dad. I hated every single second of it, but I loved it. We didn’t pack nearly enough water and food, almost passed out, had a generally miserable time, but it was one of the most transformative experiences I’ve ever had. Being stripped down to the bare bones of surviving, really pushing my physical and mental boundaries, was cathartic.
I began to tear through Thoreau, read everything I could about hiking and camping (and eventually vandwelling), followed people like Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker on Instagram, bought a map of the White Mountain National Forest, and threw a foam mattress pad in the back of my SUV so I could sleep in there to extend my trips. Nothing was really the same after that Katahdin trip.
It was my mom who actually brought up the idea of a blog first. As is usually the case, my mom saw a talent within me before I even sniffed it. In fact, when I was in high school, I was told more than once that I wasn’t a very good writer. I distinctly remember in my junior year AP Language class getting a paper returned with writing in red pen telling me that I showed a lack of willingness to improve my writing, and was generally not that good at it. Maybe he was just being a hard-ass, but I got an A in the class so why did I care?
I let the idea run in my head for quite some time, never really committing to it. Who the heck cared to read what I had to say? Nobody wants to read about me drinking unfiltered stream water at 4,000 feet and wrapping electrical tape around my bloody toes.
But then I took a writing class on a whim, I was a History major at the time, taught by Bill Nemitz, a longtime writer for the Portland Press Herald. I needed another elective to fill out my schedule for the semester, so I said what the hell.
Bill taught me how every writer before they can write anything that isn’t a steaming pile of shit, needs to find their voice. That thing that separates them. I realized quickly that my “voice”, coupled with my unique and sometimes downright strange way of looking at things, made me very different from not only the other kids in my class but from most people in general. I was good at this shit. At our end of class meeting with Bill, he told me he was going to give me an A in the class and that I absolutely needed to get into writing more.
When a guy who’s been writing for a huge newspaper longer then you’ve been alive tells you to get into writing, you just go ahead and do it. I started taking this gift I had seriously. I had no idea how to use it, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, I didn’t even know what I wanted to write about.
So I just wrote.
I started Livin’ Deliberately in the spring of 2015, right at the end of my sophomore year. It’s been over a year now, and the blog continues to steadily grow. I’ve had close to a thousand unique visitors this year alone, almost 5,000 page views, from close to thirty countries. I take it more and more serious every time I post something, but always feel like I should be taking it more seriously. Maybe someday it’ll be a big deal, and I’ll get thousands of views every time I post something. But that’s not really what it’s about. This blog is for me. I hope the people reading it enjoy it, get a little inspired even. But it’s for me. I write because it’s therapeutic, it forces me to be more present when I’m doing things so I can remember every minute detail to write down later, it gives me a platform to talk about things I really care about, and it forces me to always get better at writing. It’s gotten me a few jobs, which has made me a little bit of money, it’s connected me with a few amazing people, and it’s made me a much better writer. It’s also gotten me into photography and videography, in an effort to do everything I can to share my experiences.
Maybe someday Livin’ Deliberately will be a big deal, and I won’t get excited when I crack 100 visitors on a post because that’ll be regular. I won’t run and tell people that I have five shares on my Facebook article post because I get dozens. Or maybe the next blog I start will be the one to blow up. Or maybe none of this will ever really turn into anything. But that doesn’t bother me. It’s not really about that. I just write to write.
Stay tuned, I might write about our latest climb up Katahdin, the impending purchase of a van to live in, or maybe make you read another long-winded essay about stuff or things. Either way, I appreciate everyone who reads this and hope you enjoy. Thanks, guys.