The Ides of March Rolls By...Yet Again
On the Ides of March, 2016, a momentous occasion occurred: I managed to meet an important deadline. I finished writing a book. I sent the final manuscript of A Worthy Expedition: The History of NOLS off through the internet ethers to those waiting to produce it. I think I have failed to mention it here, on my website.
It was among the most difficult and challenging things I have ever done, start-to-finishing it in a mere twelve months. The word “gargantuan” is apt for what it took to plan, research, draft, and polish the words. Speaking with NOLS luminaries. Finding the story, “warts and all.” Crafting it.
The book’s editor and others at NOLS, especially my content readers, traversed the terrain with me (and my not always easy personality) perfectly. The project consumed me, and I loved it.
So how can it possibly be that, suddenly, it’s a year later? They took my words, added artwork and a beautiful design, and we held it in our hands for the first time last October. Since then, I’ve been outside the marketing loop. I know it’s been generally well-received, but I don’t really know how it’s selling (anyone want to write a review for any of the outdoor magazines, or anyone else?). The school cut off my email, as they do with contract workers when a project is done. Daily life resumed.
And that is what this is about: how life seeps like the tide into footprints in the sand after we pass by.
I like it.
I like that I did that job.
And I like that the passage of time has let me re-direct, re-focus, rediscover the rest of my life, even after something as consuming as that project was.
The lesson is: this, here, today, this moment....this is life. If it’s hard, or wonderful, or painful, or daunting, or frightening, the thing to remember is that this moment will pass. Whatever lies ahead, the opportunity is there, if we so decide and dig in, to alter that which needs altering, or to relish that which demands to be enjoyed.
The lesson a year ago, as I arrived at my own personal finish line a little breathless but proud (if also depleted) was to turn to all that came next. The days and weeks and months melted away. Maybe they actually evaporated, they disappeared so seamlessly...I don’t know. It surprises me a little, to realize things in terms of years like this: two years ago, I started the project and one year ago it was over. And now, another year has passed.
It all goes so quickly.
A year from now....who knows? Whatever the direction of life at the moment, the sure thing is that time will carry me forward, like it or not, to new places and experiences.
Of course, there is that famous Shakespeare line: “beware the Ides of March” which involved the assassination of Julius Caesar and the eventual demise of the Roman Empire. Three years of Latin in high school taught me how “ides” come along at the middle of every month. But I still love the Ides of March in particular, for some reason. I always have. Maybe it’s because the day comes on the heels of 3/4 (“March Forth!”) and the early hint of springtime.
Meanwhile, there’s this book you might like to read. It’s this story of an iconic school chock full of experiential education that builds self-reliance and skillful use of the Great Outdoors. It was the brainchild of 57 year old mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, who had the moxie and the charm to make great things happen. For 50 years, since he led the first course for 30 days into Wyoming’s Wind River Range, NOLS has grown and refined itself to be the gold standard of outdoor education. It’s also at the forefront of conservation through its Leave No Trace curriculum, and a leader of risk assessment and management. Legions of students have learned their wilderness first aid skills at NOLS as well, ever since the Wilderness Medical Institute was added in 1999.
Beware the Ides of March? Only if you aren’t living large and seeking to make the most of the time you have in whatever way best suits your dreams.