Sacrifice what you are for what you will become 

My new job allowed me more time to myself.  Working 12 hour shifts was much better than 4 hours here and there.  I now more opportunities to go into town, to get things done.  My weekends in the park continued with Sierra.  My free time however was spent looking for work.  We were both looking and coming up with very little.  Our resumes had been sent out all over the states, in every possible job we could be qualified for: hiking, kayaking, dog sledding, food services, and driving.

With very little choices and no responses, we ended up deciding to go to Colorado, back to my previous job.  It was the fall back, neither of us was very excited about it.  I felt as if I had failed, I had let her down.  This was my fall back job and we couldn’t find anything she had wanted.  It was safe, a calculated move, lacking passion, excitement, and drive.  I had failed her, I had failed myself, I had failed us.

Out of the blue, one morning I received a text from her, saying she had an email from one of our prospective jobs.  One we had applied to a month before.  I knew deep in my heart that it was for her and not for the both of us.  I hoped it was for the both, though I had received no email.  I knew what we had to do.  There were no options, no questions, no thoughts, she had to take it if they offered it.  I had to make this work for her.  Guiding by kayak in the Everglades was a huge step for her and I wasn’t about to be the reason she couldn’t take it.

My mind raced, I had no idea how we were going to make this happen.  We had no cars, she had housing and I didn’t, I had no job now, we had no plan to make this work.  I tried as hard as I could to focus my thoughts and energy into any positive direction.  With the lack of communication we have during the week, I had to think for the both of us.  In truth, I spent a great deal of time listening to the same quotes over and over as I scoured the internet for work.

“Pain is temporary, it may last for a minute, for an hour, or a day, or even a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.  If I quit however, it will last forever.”  “Most of you say you want to be successful, but you don’t want it bad. You just kinda want it.  You don’t want it badder than you want to party.  You don’t want it as much as you want to be cool.  Most of you dont want success as much as you want to sleep!”  ” To be able at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you will become.” Eric Thomas

“The margin for error is so small, I mean one half a step too late or too early, and you don’t quite make it.  One half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.  The inches we need are everywhere around us.  They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second.”  Any Given Sunday

“You got a dream, you gotta protect it.  People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it.  If you want something, go get it. Period.”  “You have to believe that something different can happen. He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.”  “Make a choice, just decide, what it’s gonna be, who you’re gonna be, how you are going to do it. Just decide.”  If you are not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time.”  Will Smith

I called everyone and everything I could find in the Everglades area.  I was up against many hurdles, remote location, in the prime of hiring season, lack of available jobs in the area.  I was looking at everything, if I had to be a cook for six months in McDonald’s, I’d take it to make her dream come true.  I changed my focus to road construction and started applying to any and all manual labor jobs in the area.  Whatever it takes to make this happen is all I thought.  I was not about to give up but I had to look farther away for work.

I came across a job offer in the Florida Keys that read Drivers wanted, Will train new drivers.  I had my CDL and I just called immediately.  When the gentleman answered the phone, he replied with Keys Hooka Dive Shop, this is Jerry.  I asked about his craigslist ad and we got to talking.  A second later it dawned on me, the ad had read Divers Wanted, not drivers.  In my haste and stress I had misread the ad.  Now I was in an interview for something I hadn’t planned on.  I was a stellar swimmer and had been diving before.  I thought to myself if I get hired, it’s a step in the right direction.

We spoke for about an hour and half about the job and what he was looking for.  Being a vet like myself, we found similar interests and idioms quite amusing.  I kept my excitement stifled, this could work I thought.  Sierra and I would be about 4 or 5 hours apart which was less than we were now and maybe I could steal her for the weekend every so often.  I told him before I committed I would have to talk to the boss.  He informed me that he would take both of us if we were serious.  With that we hung up and I tried to get a hold of her in the backcountry.

Later in the afternoon we had a chance to talk, I told her I may have found a job in the Keys and it would be scuba diving.  Before I could give her the details, she replied with we were going to the Keys and asked if he’d hire her too.  I was so excited, my heart raced and felt as if it was going to explode out of my chest.  She told me that she had always dreamed of being a rescue diver and this would be a dream come true.  

I was floored, I had been stressing for a week, desperately trying to figure out to make her guide job work and somehow stumbled upon her dream job.  Not only had I found it, it could actually work out.  She came to the front country the next weekend and we planned our next adventure.  From Alaska, she would travel to Hawaii for vacation with the girls and fly back to Illinois.  I would fly to Maine to climb Katahdin one more time with Zen, Deja Vu, and anyone else who joined us.  Form there I would travel home for a few days before meeting her in Illinois for two weeks.  After her friends’ wedding, we’d roadtrip to Florida to start our new adventure as professional scuba divers for winter season.

I often find myself listening to the motivational videos: “Arnold’s Six Rules of Success” and “Why Do We Fall”.  An old friend of mine once told me that in order to be successful you have to eat, sleep, breathe, and commit every second of every day towards that vision.  I try to remind myself of the lessons learned while thru hiking the AT. Follow the blazes and you’ll never get lost, the trail provides, don’t be afraid to take a zero day.  All you have to do is walk and you’ll get there.  Commit each step in one direction and in the end it will take you farther than you could ever dream of.

In the past year and half, I had thru hiked the AT, guided professionally as a musher in the mountains of Colorado and Alaska, dog sledded under the Aurora Borealis, backpacked Denali National Park, hiked with grizzly bears, and met the most amazing woman of my life.  We were heading to the Florida Keys to scuba dive coral reefs as guides, then thru hiking the PCT in our quest for The Triple Crown of Hiking.

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