How Has This Winter Affected Your Life?

It’s been a long time since I last made a post but I’m sitting here in the computer lab having a mental block while coding for my SAS homework and figured, why not take a little break! So here we go.

Well, yesterday morning I was invited to attend a local church with a group of friends, which I had recently made though the Young Life club I decided I wanted to get involved with on campus. I had not yet found a church downtown to attend regularly and I felt very blessed about the new experience ahead! We were all making small talk and having a good time learning about each other (mostly me since I was new to the group), when one of my friends said she had to interview some people for a class.  I had overheard her ask someone near by, how this winter was affecting him? He responded with a description of how the season’s wintery conditions have left him unable to log flight hours for the aviation program he is in and then he went on to talk about his flying a bit more. My mind then began to wander off, as it often does uncontrollably.  My daydreaming started with the thought of flying and how cool it would be to learn how to fly my own plane someday, then I started to reminisce on the times Zephyr and I talked about flying, and the times he had gotten to fly with an acquaintance of his in a small prop plane in Colorado (flying is also a dream of Zephyr’s). Then I thought about rock climbing because this was an activity which took over both of our lives a few years ago and how I wanted to get back into gym climbing, since indoor climbing is all that exists in Chicago, all the while holding a conversation with some of my new friends. So to say the least, my mind was all over the place.

I was then caught a little bit off guard when my friend posed the same interview question to me, “how has this winter affected your life?” I answered rather quickly, not wanting to take too long to think as I so easily could have, with a few sentences about how this winter in Chicago had changed my outlook on the season, which I so much loved my whole life and now could not wait for it to end, and also the drag that it is to walk in the blistering cold to and from school each day.  At the time this felt like more of an impulsive answer because for some reason yesterday morning I just did not like the winter haha, but then I thought about it today and realized that maybe there was a deeper meaning to the way I responded.

Ever since moving back home to Chicago after graduating from the Colorado School of Mines last spring, my life has seen a lot of changes. Some good, some bad, but mostly just changes in general. In Colorado I always found ways to be active in the winter months even when there was a foot of snow on the ground or when it was below 0 outside, which was pretty rare compared to Chicago. Whether I was rock climbing at the local spots with my friends (indoors when it was snowy), mountain biking some of the local trails, weight training at the gym, heading up to the mountains to snowboard, or even setting up urban spots around Golden with the freeride guys, you could always find me doing some kind of physical and adventurous activity. When I was injured, which was quite frequently, I would still join my friends in their activities just so I could watch and feel as though I was partaking somehow. Regardless what I was doing, I loved winter. I could  not wait until the first snowfall, or opening day at A Basin, or watching Out Cold for the first time of the season because after all, winter was what first brought me to love Colorado. Skiing and snowboarding were a big part of my life growing up and when I had the opportunity to try living somewhere new for college, I knew Colorado was the place for me to do it.

However, things are different here in Chicago. I have found myself very busy with school and work, something I was quite used to at Mines, however, one thing has dramatically changed for me; my active lifestyle has really gone absent since the winter season began. I knew that moving home last summer would mean a lot of the activities that made up my life in Colorado would have to be replaced and this scared me, but I was determined to make it work. Since there were no mountains to hike and bike, I found myself going on more runs and picked up road biking (an activity which I’ve become very into). I went up to my lake house in Wisconsin every chance I got to wakeboard and just hangout on the lake. I found some mountain biking trails nearby which I loved to go and rip up in the mornings and evenings when it wasn’t too hot out. I even spent a few weeks last summer training for a sprint triathlon, something which I plan to do again this summer. I enjoyed urban cycling, and the thrill you get while whipping through the city in an extremely disordered fashion. I played golf again with some of the friends who I grew up playing with. I even got my climbing fix on at a gym nearby which I joined for a couple months. Overall, I was able to fulfill my active lifestyle with all of these new and exciting things to do. But then the winter months rolled around and changed everything.

For some reason, the winter here has just made me less motivated to go out and be active. I don’t have some of the best ski resorts within an hours drive, there’s no climbing gym at the rec center for me to go mess around on, there hasn’t been a day in the past month where the streets weren’t too snowy/icy to go for long bike rides, and my car sucks too much in the snow to even retreat up north to Wisconsin on the weekends. Most of all, my friends from here just don’t have the same drive that I do to stay active (at least as far as I know). Aside the cycling team, which I meet with weekly to practice indoors on the computrainers, I do not have a “group” of friends I can hit up and expect them to want anything to do with physical activities or adventures. For the most, the only activity most of my friends here want to do on the weekends is party, which definitely DOES NOT fulfill my active lifestyle. And everyone knows that it’s much more fun and easier to motivate yourself to do awesome things when you have other people to share the experience with.

So before I keep going off topic and rambling on, and since I really should get back to my programming homework, I will attempt to summarize my motive for this post which is answering the question “how has this winter affected my life?” While my initial answer was fairly simple, that this winter has made me no longer like the season, there was a much greater lesson to be learned. That sometimes in life we find ourselves losing sight of the things that really matter to us, the things that make us happy, and we cannot rely on others to bring us back to our roots. For me this has always been the outdoors and staying active, but now I find myself in the midst of a blistery cold winter living the big city life in Chicago. So rather than resorting to the conclusion that I no longer love winter, I must continue to find new things to fulfill my active ways even if the temperatures outside are -15 and most of my friends do not share the same passion to stay as active as I do. Because the further and further you get from your roots, the harder it is and longer it takes to get back to them. Then before you know it, you find yourself saying you hate things you once loved for so many reasons. So until I find myself back in Colorado, or somewhere similarly fulfilling, I might as well make the most of what I have in front of me. Heck, that’s where adventures begin!




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