87

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Inspiration is a picky thing for me.  There is so much to be inspired by, just take a few minutes on Youtube, but inspiration can lead to distraction.  I am always a little weary when I feel inspired by something…art, music, a book.  Recently I finished Blood Meridian, Or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy.  I’ve been working with some folks locally to produce a show here in New Mexico, and reading that book made me want to go and focus even more on it.  It took up a few days of my time before I realized some of my other projects, like my new Udemy course, were being sidelined.  So, I stopped, and decided, ‘Maybe if I ever have a daughter, I’ll name her Meridian’ and I moved on.

But, when inspiration hits, in a personal way, something that touches my soul, I pay attention.

I hike, a lot.

And the photo here is another person who hikes, a lot.

His name is Jack and I run into him constantly in the Sandias.

Now, here’s the thing about Jack.

He’s 87.

Anyone who has hiked the Sandias knows that these are not easy hikes up here.  Unlike other areas of northern New Mexico, where the paths are clearly defined, our beautiful Sandias are not.  As you enter the foothills, whatever path you’re on, if it isn’t one of the few tourist trap trails, you’re in for an adventure.  Rocky, climbs, rattlesnakes, bears, the other day Patton and I were in a canyon and looked up and saw either the biggest cat we’ve ever seen, or the smallest mountain lion ever lost, watching us (which led Patton to pitch a fit).

The Sandias can be as sketchy as they are beautiful.

And Jack, at 87, is conquering them…since 1959, when he transferred from Los Alamos to ABQ and bought a house.  1959…he’s been hiking the Sandias.  A few weekends ago he did Santa Fe Baldy – that’s 12,600 ft and around 10 miles round trip.

87.

I won’t go into Jack’s story, I’m still learning it.

So, what’s my inspiration…?

 

‘You’re never too old to put one foot in front of the other’, as Jack told me recently.

You’re never too old, too poor, too successful, too loaded down with cool toys, too much in an argument with your wife or husband or partner, too irritated at work, too far behind on the bills, too fat, too skinny, too sick (as Barry taught me), too strong, too weak, too injured…to put one foot in front of the other and keep going and enjoy the sights you see.

It’s not the load, it’s how you carry it.  One foot, in front of the other, focus on the task at hand.

Jack feels his age on his knees that show his surgery scars, but the Sandias inspire him.  In the 90 degree heat he was hiking over the weekend, we stood and talked about rattlesnakes and the routes up some of the inclines…then he high-tailed it down to the search and rescue training camp that National Guard had set up.  He hiked into the middle of the camp, took pictures in a helicopter, told stories, and then he climbed ever so slow to me and the dogs and we watched the helicopters drop the search and rescue dummies up in the hills before we went out separate ways. As we watched them over and drop dummies, Jack said it best…

‘Don’t look too hard, the pilot hovers, and you kick that mannequin out. I could have done that.  I think I’ll hike back down and ask to go up.’

When you put one foot in front of the other and make it through, nothing seems to hard.  On a 30 miler recently I felt that, as the pain of the pack disappeared, the 15 miles of rain soaked into my soul, I thought about where I’ve been, where I was going, and why this was so important…to take another step, a slow step, to get my dogs back to the car, to get my hiking partner back to the car…and why didn’t I pack a set of clean clothes to change into!!!!

You can never go to slow to get where you are going, as long as you get there.

The other thing Jack didn’t tell me, but showed me, is not to be afraid of growing old…just die tired and ready to go to Heaven exhausted.  I think I’ll have a pack of dogs, a cat, and a lot of family waiting on me by then…

Matt