Level Up

I don’t write about it much (or ever really) but I enjoy the odd video game in my downtime. When I need to relax or spend time with my daughter, the controllers come out and we play. When I don’t have the mental energy for a book or for writing, I flip on the PlayStation. And I usually go in for either puzzle games or, when I’m feeling ambitious, role playing games.

The conceit of most role playing games is experience gathering.

The idea of “leveling up” comes from taking on the role of a character in a game who needs to practice skills or abilities over and over again as the story progresses to become better, stronger, faster, more agile, or smarter.

Real life doesn’t often work much like a video game at all, but I do tend think one trope from the realm of digital entertainment translates quite succinctly from the real world in a way that is useful. It probably goes without saying that practicing any skill can make one better, stronger, faster, more agile, or smarter.

What was your biggest
achievement of the last year?

I could make a list of all the interesting skills and abilities in which I’ve challenged myself to “level up” this past year, but one only needs to scroll through the archives of this blog to see the writings I’ve already left here about many of them.

Instead, I’d simply suggest that the very act of trying to become a better learner, the notion of taking on new things, digging into interesting problems, tackling the unknown, and diving into literature and documentation to figure out stuff I didn’t know before, that act itself was a grand achievement of a sort.

It is notably easier to sit on the couch and watch other people do interesting things on television.

Heck, I often click over to YouTube and watch some other outdoorsman or culinary amature share their video blog of adventure, exploration, and investigation. It really is mindless to watch someone else cook a great dish. It is absolutely simpler to let the video run as someone else pitches a tent in the wilderness and roughs it in the winter weather while they narrate their camping trip to the camera. That’s basic.

What is far more difficult is writing down that recipe and trying to prepare it yourself.

The real challenge lies in conquering one’s own wilderness, be that deep in the woods or a campfire out the backdoor.

So what is my best achievement of 2021? I don’t want to brag, but tackling some interesting challenges has definitely left me (at least a little bit) better, stronger, faster, more agile, and possibly even a little bit smarter.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Be Careful Out There

It’s been a couple months since I rolled up the hem of my shirt and did some serious blog-related navel-gazing. Yet today is meta-Monday and the last day of May and the day after I posted my one-hundred-and fiftieth daily blog post and just one of those days when I got to thinking about all the bits of good or bad advice online and has me wondering if I’m contributing to that in a meaningful, positive way.

Consider this photo.

Someone influenced us to go hiking there last summer. I don’t remember who. A guidebook or a blog or something we’d read in the news or maybe just a friend.

We do that. We are inspired by others and then inspire in turn.

I took this photo while standing part way on the ascent of the Wilcox pass and had turned my camera towards this mountain range vista that included the Athabasca Glacier, Hilda Peak, and Mount Andromeda. Another photo from this trip has shown up as fodder for a different blog post. Yet another pic is the profile photo on my Twitter account.

The well-trod trail served as a picturesque vantage for a collection of other peaks I’ll likely never climb but, perhaps, aspire to someday have the inclination to visit.

A couple of people who I don’t know and likely did not inspire were otherwise inspired to climb one of those pictured peaks. They got caught in an avalanche over the weekend and didn’t make it home to post their photos or inspire others to follow.

It was just one more story among a multitude of sad news over the weekend, but one that tweaked in my mind given that every day I’ve been writing words that may have the secondary effect of encouraging people to go out hiking and running into the trails, build roaring fires in their backyards, cook with blisteringly hot slabs of iron, and generally be adventurous.

That’s a big part of why I write these things.

I assume it’s a big part of why others read those words.

Inspiring each other: while none of us is fully responsible for the actions of others, whether those actions cause you to burn your hand on a hot grill, trip on a root while you’re running and bruise your arm, or climb a dangerous mountain and get buried in an avalanche, we do have a responsibility to give each other information that is correct and careful. We also have a moral obligation to remind each other to participate safely no matter what you’re up to.

One hundred and fifty posts into a daily blog has amounted to one hundred and fifty ideas, notions, thoughts, curiosities, and (I hope) inspirations for living a slightly more interesting life. I’ve probably got at least another hundred and fifty left in me right now, so as you read and ponder and lace up or light those coals or season your cast iron, just remember: be careful out there.

Reminder: Blogs are not a replacement for professional advice. Please read my note on safety and safe participation.