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Life Is an Adventure and Your Day Job Doesn't Define You

Sure, we all would prefer to be spending our time in some dope mountains. But perhaps our desire to be in the outdoors occasionally hinders us from fully appreciating the life we live when we're not out exploring the world.

By: Chris MacMurray + Save to a List

Several months ago, while I was still finishing up my undergrad, I read an article written by a barista/musician about how to tolerate working a job that you're not passionate about. 

This author's passion is music. In fact, he had spent fifteen years of his life as a drummer for a band known as The Swellers. Yet, even after all of those years of touring and making several successful pop/punk records, he found himself working as a full-time Starbucks barista in order to pay his bills, rather than living the comfortable, luxurious lifestyle of a rock-n-roll musician. 

In summary, his conclusion was that our job title doesn't have to define who we are; sometimes we need to work mundane--and sometimes shitty--jobs in order to pursue our most beloved passions, which ultimately renders our daily jobs value and purpose.

Realistically, this is the reality that most of us face on a daily basis. We work jobs that we can tolerate enough so that we can pursue the things that truly matter to us. Since the time I read this article, I graduated from college and began my first year as a full-time "working man." When I first began working full-time, my original understanding of work was that it would simply be a catalyst in order for me to save up money so that I could travel the world. Traveling is one of my greatest passions. In fact, it was my zealous love for the outdoors that prompted me to take a few "gap years" after graduation instead of jumping straight into graduate school. 

So far, working has allowed me to take a couple of incredible trips to some jaw-dropping locations. But even with the opportunities I've had to travel, I've noticed that when I'm not traveling, most of the time I feel oddly unfulfilled and discontented. Why would this be?

Because I've realized that I've equated seeing the world and being in the outdoors with living a worthwhile life and being abundantly joyful.

When you begin to perceive your everyday life as a means to some other end, you simultaneously make it a challenge for yourself to enjoy the life you have before you. You'll find that you spend most of your time fantasizing about your next trip, or researching and planning the next one. It all becomes a substitute for being present. 

It's been almost four months since my last trip, and almost two months since I spent some quality time adventuring in the outdoors. Most days I spend wishing that I was out backpacking or taking photos, and those tend to be the days when I am the most dissatisfied with my life. They tend to be the days when I completely neglect my daily blessings.

My daily reality is this:

- I live in Spokane, Washington in a house with five other dudes.

- I work a part-time job at a running footwear retailer.

- I only get to travel every few months because I only make minimum wage.

My reality could be this:

- I live in Hipsterville, Oregon with my parents, and reside only a 1-2 hour drive away from Mt. Hood National Forest, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Oregon coast.

- I work a part/full-time job and all of my income is reserved for gas, spending, and saving up to travel. My parents don't charge me for rent or groceries.

- I travel fairly frequently, and when I'm not traveling I have several beautiful outdoor locations practically sitting in my backyard that I can explore any time I want.

Here's why my reality is the way it is:

- I am passionate about relationships. I live in Spokane, WA, because the majority of my closest friends reside in this city. Including the five dudes that I share a house with. Back in Portland, the closest friend I have to my parents' house lives an hour drive away. I spend $500-600 a month on food and rent (all of which could be saved for traveling if I lived with my parents) just so I can be surrounded by good company. 

- I ran cross country and track in all four years of college. I am passionate about running, and I work part-time at a running footwear retailer that pays minimum wage. Makes perfect sense, right? I thoroughly enjoy the work I do (in fact, there has not been a single day that I have dreaded going to work), because it gives me opportunities to serve and help others in an area that I am very passionate about. It also turns out that I thoroughly enjoy the people I work with. 

- I could get a second part-time job, make more money, and travel more, but I haven't made it a priority because I cherish the free time that I have to invest in those in my life who I deeply love and care about. 

When I take a break from dwelling about the next opportunity I'll have to immerse myself in the outdoors and instead take a long, honest look at my daily life, I realize that my passion for the outdoors doesn't define who I am either; just as my job, where I live, or my income don't define who I am. Ultimately, my passion for the outdoors is just another piece of the puzzle that pieces together my self-portrait. Don't get me wrong, my passion for the outdoors is definitely a giant piece to the puzzle. But it doesn't compose the entire portrait itself. 

When I realize this reality, I don't find myself waking up each day dreaming about when I'll get to wake up in the mountains again. Instead, I wake up each day looking forward to the ways that I get to engage with the several other passions that piece together my identity. Writing this story is a superb example of this, because writing has been one of my greatest loves ever since I was ten years old. 

The reality is that most days are ordinary, and for most of us being in the outdoors isn't something we get to enjoy on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis. But that doesn't mean that the rest of life has to be a dull or mundane experience either. It can be layered and riddled with passion and enjoyment. 

Plan your next adventure, look forward to it, and get friggin' stoked at just the thought of it. But until then, don't let your love of the outdoors hinder you from relishing in the subtle passions and blessings that are already present in your daily life--whatever they are, I look forward to hearing about them on the trail. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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