Photo by Chris Gallagher on Unsplash

It is the end of the world- in a way, and not. Let's talk

Last week I was driving the Coastal Highway 101 south from Yachats to Florence at the end of my Hump Day. Right about the time you hit a certain promontory, your pop radio station disappears, and you can get NPR again.

The world and all its ills crowd in. Sometimes I just have to turn it off, because that can ruin the gorgeous visions in my head from the Coast.

Before I hit that point, however, the oldies station- there are LOTS of oldies stations for the Coast, just look at who lives here- was playing R.E.M.'s song about the end of the world. Bet you remember it.

It got me thinking. There are a great many doomsdayers, naysayers and disaster peddlers, all given a platform from which to shout their shit to the world (much of it unsubstantiated but that's always been the case).

It's hard enough to do a daily dance with the challenges we all manage in our businesses, lives and our changing bodies. The fire hose of bad news doesn't help, especially if that news touches people we love.

We get to draw the line where external information affects us, and focus on those things which we can indeed control up to a point, and above all, our feelings about them. That's harder than ever to do, but for us to have any kind of life that's what we have to do.

There is a great deal in my world that's been changing. Those of you who have followed me from Medium to Walkabout and are seeing that I am building a branded newsletter/business on Substack, have been patiently watching things end.

Big things, lots of dreams, hopes, plans disappeared or got washed out by events over the last several years. It's been quite a party, to quote fictional character Augustus McCrae of Lonesome Dove.

It's not always easy to see that such things have to blow up and be in chaos or implode so that new things can be born.

The more attached I am to what I have, to who I think I am, the harder it is to release what was and what really does need to change. While that perspective may come more easily to me than some, let's just say that the physical toll of the pain load made that ability to be somewhat Zen about all these shifts a touch more challenging.

I'm not the only one who's been going through changes. Patreon supporter Randy Roig and his wife Ellen have been experiencing some similar challenges; he wrote me recently that on top of the big shoulder injury that Ellen had suffered in the Antarctic, he'd been diagnosed with a health issue that needed addressing and she finally realized that her left knee needed replacement.

These are active people, like many of you. For all of us to stay in the game, sometimes we have to go down and STAY down for a while so that we can eventually get back up and get out again.

red petaled flower on grass field
Photo by kai brune / Unsplash

Randy and Ellen recently took a trip to Pacific Grove where some 5900 monarch butterflies were in residence, and tourists were scarce. He sent me this photographic journey. PLEASE give yourself this treat, these photos are breathtaking.

What a reminder that some of the world's most gorgeous experiences are right here in America. As much as I love my international excursions, Randy's work is a wonderful tap on the shoulder that plenty of wonder is right in our own back yard.

Which leads me to what I want to share with you.

There have been a lot of endings in my world. Some have been quite difficult, others are welcomed. Some of the welcomed changes were obvious only when I finally pried my cold, rigid fingers off what I was so damned attached to at the time.

It appears I'm starting a bunch of brand new things all at once. While the current chaos at my house (no really, my toilet is in the shower and the whole house is upside down) is making the holidays anything but merry, what is merry is all this upheaval and what's emerging from it.

No really. My toilet IS in my shower.

I received several life-changing invitations:

To let go of my attachment to the Great Adventure Athlete, to which I have been very happily married for twelve years. What was hard to see at the time was how letting go of this allows some version of it to morph naturally into something new. Of course it is.

To stop being so damned scared of assignment writing. That gave me the willies. It was one reason that initially I said no to an event which may well have launched me into my seventies into places that appear to be very exciting. Like many people, there are areas where I suffer from performance anxiety, and this is a beaut for me. It's one reason I've avoided getting more deeply involved in my professional organization, the Outdoor Writer's Association of America.

Look, I can poke myself in the ribs about being willing to kiss a cheetah but being fearful of pitching a story. We all have our boogeymen and that has been mine, and it takes what it takes for us to walk into that. For me, after the last few years of big losses, finding the courage to take this simple step has been much more challenging.

That fear comes of feeling as though I'm never enough, no matter what, something I share with a great many people who grew up doubting their value. That of course is part of the journey, learning to part with that lie.

To sit with my resistance, stare it down, change my answer. I said yes. All kinds of things happened as a result.

A "Boorum" cactus from the Arizona Sonoma Desert Museum

This is what came of saying yes to the Arizona press junket:

There seems to be a very real interest in an aging writer who can speak for and to the Boomers and Xers about why there is so much to look forward to as we age, most especially in the industry I love.

That industry, which is likely better-suited for me going forward, is adventure travel.soft, if you will.

I can still do my thing in the world by horse. However the hell-bent-for-leather version needs to change if I am to survive, much less thrive, into my nineties.

That part of my life hasn't ended, it's just amended.

There are parts of this body which will not take the kind of abuse to which I subjected it in my sixties.

But that's part of all our story isn't it? As we age, change and evolve, what do we need to put down, what do we get to pick up, which allows us a whole new way of being?

We're all dealing with some version of those tradeoffs and invited to find new ways of living vibrantly. Whether it's Warren and his endurance races, Randy and his wife and their international travels, all the rest of us are pushing our own personal envelopes.

Time takes something, then, like an ethereal Santa, drops something else off for us to open like the gift it is.

Here's the perfect example:

I didn't anticipate that outfitters would want me to experience and write about their trips because of my age, not in spite of it.


After twelve years of rank ageism in the industry, that is a breath of fresh air so powerful that it's hard to appreciate. But I do.

It's much bigger than just me. The fact that I now seem to have some standing in the industry means that people are seeing us greybeards as a viable market. That's just a tiny bit of what's afoot.

After so many years of having the adventure biz be so dominated by White guys, the industry is experiencing a seismic shift. There has been a great deal of pushback by said White guys. Changes in society at large and the need to stay relevant as well as profitable have meant that the outdoor industry must broaden their market reach.

Lots of folks recognize that diversity, especially including age, is what is going to keep the outdoors industry healthy. So helping open up the opportunities to folks with mobility issues, the deaf, the disabled, people traditionally kept out of the back country- all of that is right up my alley.

Too many veterans, people who have never even countenanced the notion of a hike, all kinds of people may find their way outside. The idea of that gives me a lot of joy. The more I explore the softer adventure side of the outdoors the more I can entice people who need to take baby steps.

We need those folks in the outback to help save the outback.

Of course there's also this:

The Most Hilarious (and Scathing) National Park Reviews This Year
There was nothing to do, I didn’t see a bear, and that snake harassed me

There will always be people who need to stay home and out of the outdoors but that's just me. Yellowstone tourons, please stay home.

I can do the harder stuff on my own time, assuming my body allows it. There are all kinds of ways to do this going forward, and I get to stay open, soft and curious as things evolve.

It IS the end of my world as I know it. What a gift. All of us get to leave what doesn't work at the door, and continue with what we think will work where we're headed.

I'll be wrong about some of that, too.

That's the whole point. I don't know.

My life got torn apart these last few years and it is now coming together. My house got torn apart and it, too, is coming together. That's a separate article but here's a hint:

I went from mute to beaut. I started with a very soft sage. Then I got brave. The center color, Juniper, will dominate my bedroom. Wow!

I am beyond grateful. As the year winds down and I head out to the Coast with five more pounds in my backpack to hike the dunes today in the light rain, I cannot, cannot wait to see what's next.

I hope this holiday season sees you with much to celebrate as well. More to follow but today I have sand dunes to hike.

It is the end of the world as I know it. And yes, I feel fine.

________________________________________________________Dear Walkabout Saga Reader:

Thank you so much for taking a few minutes out of your life to read my work. WalkaboutSaga  is an act of love and devotion, and I hope that you found value in it.

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