"On Being a Hack" or "Toward the Colorado Trail"
"My people, I am about to embark on the most unremarkable, mediocre journey this world has ever seen. I plan to glaze it with the most average prose ever written and slightly out of focus and sometimes uninteresting photos. But whatever comes of it, I give you my word as a true hack, it will be honest."
I’m such a fucking hack. I mean it. Beyond being able to string a couple of sentences together in a moderately colorful manner and with slightly above average coherence…I’m a hack.
I know it. Other people don’t seem to know it, but I know it.
I know it the same way I knew at 16 I wasn’t going to play soccer at a “real” college.
I know it the way I know my limitations in the high mountains.
I know it the way talking about finances leaves me slightly dizzy and more than a little melancholy,
and I know it the way that, despite all my best intentions, I’m never going to send cards to family members on special occasions (even though it doesn’t mean I love them any less!!!).
I know I’m a hack writer. And yet…
Something still tugs at me.
Something still has me filling up folders with .doc files containing two, three, sometimes four paragraphs of an idea that might have been something, might yet BE something, if I weren’t…such…a hack. Sigh.
A while ago I came across the video feed of local Portland rider/artistic/maker Dustin Klein (who is crazy talented and you should follow him), and in the post, he used the hashtag #everythingsbeendone. I thought “great, there it is. All of the reflective humility and general OK-ness of my life with regards to anything creative or athletic, boiled down to one run-on hashtag.”
Basically it’s the idea of being crippled to the point of NOT writing, photographing, sharing because the actual magnitude of the accomplishment doesn’t warrant it, and the tools used to record it aren’t skilled enough.
Now hold that thought while I talk about adventure.
In my life and career, I’ve had the profoundly good fortune to be surrounded by truly gifted athletes and adventurers. Consequently, I don’t find anything I accomplish to be in the least bit remarkable. At least not remarkable enough to share the account of with the world wide web. As an example, this July I’m going to do the Colorado Trail as a solo bikepacking trip (or race, I haven’t decided). Now, to 99.5% of the planet earth, this is just sheer fucking madness. Riding and hike-a-biking 500+ miles with 70,000 ft of climbing through the Rockies, self-supported, alone, in under a week? Bonkers. It is, without doubt, the single biggest thing I will have attempted in my life and yet, the very idea of writing even an instagram post about it makes me slouch in my chair, think of all the racers who complete it in 6, 5, even 4 days and suddenly I just want to type out #everythingsbeendone about a million times and bash my head against the keyboard.
Woe is me, woe is me, nothing I do is big enough, fast enough, scary enough, well photographed or well written enough to find interesting.
WELL FUCK THAT. Seriously, fuck that.
I’ve come to the conclusion that doing it for myself must be remarkable enough. That writing the account of it must be well-written enough. That sharing it, not because I need to share it to have made it real, but so that someone else might be motivated to share their own mediocre story that scared the shit out of them, is simply quite good enough.
My people, I am about to embark on the most unremarkable, mediocre journey this world has ever seen. I plan to blanket it with the most average prose ever written, highlighted by slightly out of focus and perhaps uninteresting photos. Whatever becomes of it, I give you my word as a true hack, it will be honest.