Two months ago I said, "Goodbye" to Southern California. I arrived on the beach early in the morning and slowly traversed the shoreline. The waves gently lapped at my bare toes and played with the sand beneath my feet. A final day in the pure blue perfection of another San Diego Wednesday, the kind that draws so many people to this part of America. So many people like me.
You know that feeling you get when you've been in a place too long. Maybe you haven't experienced it yourself but it's in every horror movie when you're pleading with the actors and actresses to stop being so naive and run away from the haunted house. The feeling pursued me for over a year. It was a shadow of a hand that I knew was following me and waiting to grab me and pull me away. Life was as easy as it could get; wake up, work, sleep, repeat. Every time I whipped around the hand vanished but I felt its presence in the way it disturbed the air. Throughout the year I learned that catching this phantom would be a gradual process facilitated by my experiences and connections.
There is no one particular catalyst that can be attributed to the cascade of actions that led to my departure. Many occurrences had to do with my ego's perception of success and failure. Augmented personal priorities leading to an uneven life balance provided further subunits in this reaction. If you wanted to name the enzyme responsible for lowering the activation energy in my conversion I would name it, "Climber's protease."
A protease is an enzyme that breaks down complex proteins into its building blocks or amino acids. Climber's protease takes a life full of convoluted needs, wants, and desires and breaks it down into the basic needs for food, shelter, water, and climbing. In this transition one learns most about the necessity of friendship and family in providing these basic needs. A half full box of oatmeal, some Mountain Chow, and a couple of bottles of beer, imparted to you from a climber ending their stay at Indian Creek, holds a greater value than any materialistic needs of a chic society. Joy in life comes most simply from a friend giving you a couch during a cold night, the warmth of being home with family for a few days, or a morning sunrise after a night spent under the stars.
Climber's protease allowed me to catch the spirit and helped to encourage me to seek more from life by giving up a desire for excess. I rose from my seat on the beach and walked over the dune back towards the idyllic traffic coasting down highway 101. In my final view of the ocean I looked past the unoccupied lifeguard tower watching the endless blue, took my last gulp of the briny ocean air, closed my eyes and listened to a final wave quiver and clap against the hard sand. The clarity of this moment revealed a grand journey ahead.