The Office with an Ever-Changing View

June 24, 2010

Life doesn’t turn itself on its head all the time, thank the powers that be.

But when it does, it usually happens in a blink of an eye. Or what my little brain perceives to be a blink.

Not quite three weeks ago, I left Portland, and our new apartment, for a much anticipated adventure in Salt Lake City; my training to be a Backroads Trip Leader. This morning I woke up in my own bed, with a new agenda, a tight schedule, and a world (mostly) upside down.

It was late in the evening when my twenty comrades and I met each other at the condo near the base of Big Cottonwood that would be our home for the next couple of weeks. We knew nearly nothing about each other, and little about the job for which we had accepted minus the sparkling reputation that the company possessed, and the promise of adventure, travel, the outdoors, and the window-less office with the ever-changing view that had been dangled before our noses in the application process. We were here at last – wiggling with glee.

The next morning, our rapid-fire entry into the new world began. First our training leaders introduced themselves- an amazing crew of experienced leaders prepared with sage advice, plenty of laughs and constructive criticism to get us up and on our feet. Then they introduced us to the JOB — tutorials in organization, systems, and logistics, crash courses in bike maintenance, trailer hitching, magic, sorcery, teamwork, campfire cooking, public speaking, and turning customer service tricks on an international scale.

To do this meant complete and total immersion; we 20 worked together, played together. We spent 6 days sleeping under the stars, working our once-manicured fingers to grime and grit, problem-solving and learning how to track the details of a trip on a dime. While we were at it, we picked up a few choice hikes and rides in Bryce and Zion National Parks, took a million pictures, and became a little family. It was an unequivocally life changing experience.

I have been in this place before, quite a few times, on the flip side of a completely journey altering experience. But never quite like this. Its been a long time since I was able to walk out my door and find someone that speaks my language – bikes/sweat/music/food/travel/adventure/matters of the heart/depths of the mind/contemplations from the road less traveled. I don’t think I have ever found myself in a position where I instantly fell in love with so many people, so much energy, and so much responsibility all at once. Nor has a change presented such an exciting oyster to crack – the whole world, in this case. Backroads, and my work with them, is not like finding myself on a remote sub-tropical island far from home and my mother tongue. Its a home that covers the globe where everyone knows my name, and there is always a big hug and a bike waiting. (Well, when a guest doesn’t need it, of course.)

And yet, the odd thing is that the culmination of all of those other life changing, eye opening, journey altering experiences appears to be this place. This role. My ability to fill these shoes next to my peers and, with all that I am, to be fantastic at it.

This morning I woke up in my own bed. I unpacked, and repacked. Today, I will head to my first assignment — in the San Juan Islands to share wildlife, good food, and an absolutely and indescribably beautiful place with others via bike/hike/kayak. Later this summer, Hawaii. And after that, who knows. I take with me so much strength, support, knowledge — from my company, from my Backroads family, and from my own family as well.

Its hard to leave Gunner, and Derek, and my friends and family in their places. To pick up and go, knowing that it will be a couple of weeks (at least) before I return again. But there is a light that has been lit here and something is a changing, as well it should and always does. I know that along the way, I’ll have much to learn. My little space in the world will change, and morph, and become as a result, I just know it. And everything will be alright. A world without doors, or windows. Emerson said that “nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.” I think that the old man is on to something….

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