I often tell people that 31 was my worst year. Something was off ... nothing was working. In retrospect, it is probably because I lost my groove. And because I was forced to learn some lessons. Lessons that I have recently had to relearn.
I have developed a reputation for being pretty stubborn and independent. But until recently I have relied on other people to help me not only find the motivation to do stuff, but to be happy and feel good about me. The biggest part about this was the conflict between my love of being outside and doing stuff (especially snowboarding) and the fact that there were few people who were able to join me on a regular basis.
Last winter, I found myself on the hill alone. The first few times were very hard. Just getting the motivation to get out there after work and be alone on the hill took a lot. It became easier and over time I realised that I actually really enjoyed being alone on the hill and just doing my own thing. I have since been hiking by myself (and saw a bear ... not sure who was more startled by the run-in) and have discovered that I really like traveling by myself.
I learned to be happy - alone. To be comfortable with just me (and occasionally the cat). Long drives, airplane flights, hours on the hill. I enjoy my company and sometimes (just sometimes) resent when people infringe on this time.
Being alone and doing things alone also meant that I had to take responsibility for not only my happiness, but my gear. I had to be able to fix my bike, figure out my bindings, change a tire. I also had to have the tools to do all this. Being alone meant being prepared for the worst, because when it is bad, you only have yourself.
Recently I might as well have been 31 again! I recently, due to several incidents, forgot about these lessons that were so hard (and painful) to learn last winter. An encounter made me forget that I am responsible for my happiness and that I need to keep doing things my way. That I need to find what grounds me and stick with it - no matter how other people make me feel. Along with that, I found myself in the middle of nowhere two weeks ago, with a flat tire, alone and without gear.
I was on a long group ride, and for most of the ride I held my own. But I was over-tired and under-prepared. I admit, I brought nothing with me other than water. Why should I? I was with a large group of people and rode solid in the pack. At least three of the ten of us had full gear kits. And then I felt like I was crashing. I had no energy, couldn't move my bike forward. I let the group know I was taking a quick stop and would catch-up with them. Stretching, I realised that, apart from being out of water, I felt great, so I got back on the bike and kept peddling ... but again, I couldn't move the bike. It was HARD. After about 500m, I realised my front tire was rapidly flattening! Where was I? How far till my friends house? Would they wait? I was about 6km from my friends house in the middle of nowhere - and no one waited for me. It took me an hour to walk back. Emotionally it was as hard as it was physically. Bike shoes are not the most comfortable to walk in, but having an hour alone, along unknown paths of having to think about why I was in this position reminded me that I need to remember that I can not rely on other people. That I am responsible for the situations that I find myself in and that the reason I was walking with my bike was because I had forgotten some of the simple truths I had learned last winter.
So, as I head into another winter and I try and figure out how to keep myself happy, I will seek to remember that I, and I alone, am responsible for where I am in my life and that when I forget this, I will probably find myself walking home with my bike in bike shoes.