Nicholas Dubois Photography

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It Is What You Make It

As we sit anxiously at the start of something that is unknown to us, there is a sensation that is equal parts exhilarating, and also terrifying. It is a feeling that makes us wary during times of change, while driving us forward with unprecedented flexibility, to adapt into the world we are now facing.

Whenever any of us are asked about a time that defined where we have ended up, and who we have become, the answer is rarely mundane, and more often than not, it’s riddled with challenges and struggle. There is then a paradox, if you will, in the way we sometimes shy away from experiences or choices that are difficult, preferring the comfort that we associate with stability, even if we know deep down, that stable is the last word we would use to describe our lives.

On the flip side of this coin, there are also those of us who fear stability, and ironically find ourselves trapped in a cycle of restlessness and boredom, leaving every time something is not quite what was expected.

Like many horoscopes, you may find that you have related at some point in your life to both of these states of being, and despite the unpleasantness, these almost universal states of being, are to me, the beauty behind how we live and grow as individuals.

This is an awfully vague metaphor to describe the sensation of launching into the woods behind a row of charging dogs, and you’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about if we’re being honest. But, if we stop to think about it for a moment, the substance of our lives is built from journey’s large and small. Right now, for me, these journeys are a few feet behind a team of dogs, while for you, it could be the beginning of a new project at work, or saying goodbye to your kids as they walk out the door for school. Just waking up in the morning, you might notice your senses heightening, and your world opening up before you.

Unfortunately, day to day, doing the same things over and over, we might dull to the kick of a cup of coffee, and we settle into taking for granted how far we have come, which eventually leads to the paradox of fearing a break from normal, and being trapped in a cycle of trying but never being able to move on. You might be surprised to hear that even dog sledding is subject to the same complacency after running the same route on repeat, and even the dogs sometimes seem to get bored! The only thing I have to maintain my perspective, is the fear and wonder in people’s eyes as they sit waiting to take off from the yard on their first ever dog sledding adventure.

How, you ask (or maybe not), do you escape the fear of taking off, and also the trap of complacency? That’s a damn good question, and I don’t have an answer, just a sled, a few dogs in front of me, and a hunch.

My first twelve dog team!

I have often read articles, and have been shown evidence, that routine is the key to success, and I do not disagree at all. Without routine, our lives would be a jumbled and confusing mess, with no possible way to know what we’re supposed to do next, and we truly would get nowhere. For instance, right out of the kennel, I know that I have to make an immediate right “gee,” to get onto the tour trail, and if I ever took a wrong turn or two, I would be hopelessly lost. However, nothing is ever that simple, and as it usually is, breaking the rules is where my inspiration lies, and I hope that you too might find some inspiration in what I have to say next.

Adventure truly is everywhere, and I do not mean adventure in the classic sense of setting off into the sunset with no idea where the trail might take you, though it would certainly qualify. I also know by now, every tree by the side of this trail, and Bell’s favorite ones to steal pine bows from. Adventure to me is finding yourself in a situation that provides input that your sensory organs have never processed. It freshens your mind, and floods your nerves with anticipation. If you asked me, the eternal optimist, every single moment of your life, no matter how structured, would be a new adventure, ripe for growth and learning. Of course, it rarely ever feels that way in reality, even with a fresh eight inches of snow setting on the ground.

The forever curious Bell.

This is why I believe that routine cannot be the only key ingredient in moving forward. I have found that occasionally breaking trail to find an alternate path will bring you off of the hard packed ice of your routine, into the cold fresh snow that stings your senses into awakening, and opens your eyes to the novelty of every passing moment. Even when running the trail backwards isn’t an option, you can still find an awareness of the nuanced changes that your everyday path is undergoing to amplify your appreciation for the extraordinary moments that slip quietly into our daily routines.

As you continue to explore the untouched or overlooked corners of your life, your options expand with every trail opened up. Even if they all lead back to the same place, you’ve given yourself the freedom of mind to choose what you wish to see, and to make with your your life what you will.

That being said, my last suggestion is to never take advice from a cold snow bum in the northern reaches of nowhere. Try it for yourself.