Losing My Mind

When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was sit next to the fire in my grandfather’s chair and skim his book of quotes. I’ve always admired the ability of great thinkers and writers to capture complex thoughts and emotions, sometimes in only a few short words. Given what I just said, I am embarrassed to admit that one of my all-time favorite quotes actually comes from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Life has been moving pretty fast for me over the past year. I started working for myself, got married, bought a house, and continue to seek the balance of creating and running a successful business with my need to get outside and play. This winter, I’ve been more of a weekend warrior than ever before, with mid-week skiing being reserved for only the best days, and climbing occurring far more on the plastic at the local rock gym than on rock or ice. Despite the challenges, the last few months have been fantastic, and I have managed to spend the majority of my free time in the mountains. While I haven’t been missing time in the mountains, the sped up, more hectic nature of life lately has had me missing other things, most notably key pieces of gear.

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The ugly forgetful trend started this past November (I can’t remember if it was right before or right after buying our house, but I am still using the fact that we were in some stage of packing or unpacking as an excuse) when, in the parking lot preparing for the first leg of a hike-and-sport-climb day, I realized that I had forgotten to bring a backpack. It was pretty humbling as I sifted through a bin stuffed with everything from carabiners to cookies only to realize that the only thing I had to carry it all with was a reusable shopping bag. Fortunately, my partner was generous enough to carry some water, a snack, and my camera on the hike. Later that day, we stuck to climbing at crags near the parking lot, and I shamefully toted my gear in the reusable shopping bag. (At least it was an Osprey shopping bag, allowing me to keep some outdoor credibility.)

If only the indignity ended there. Shortly after Christmas, I was driving north again with the intention of getting a morning of ice climbing in before taking a quick backcountry lap at one of my favorite spots. Driving through Franconia Notch, my partner asked how many ice screws had I packed. Shit! I forgot ice screws. Then I had to smile because I realized that I also forgot my ice axes. Luckily, the skiing was good that day, and my faux pas was soon forgotten. That is until a couple weeks later while getting ready to ski tour in a parking lot at the base of Mount Washington when I discovered I had forgotten batteries for my avalanche beacon. Whoops! Once again, I was bailed out by a conscientious partner who had been burned too many times by me over the course of the winter, as he packed a second beacon, just in case.

Packs, ice screws, and avalanche beacons are certainly important pieces of gear, but I have also struggled mightily with another key piece of equipment this winter: my car keys. There was an evening after a day of skiing at the local mountain where I dragged everything to the car, only to discover my keys missing. Panicked, I sent my wife into the lodge bar to see if I had left them on the table (or if they fell on the ground) and frantically dialed my friends to see if one of their kids had accidently picked them up. After 15 or 20 minutes of scrambling, I found my keys. They were in the Napoleon pocket of my vest. It would be easy to write that incident off as one-too-many at the bar if my keys didn’t go missing again a week later in the parking lot in Crawford Notch. Once again, after fitfully searching all of our backpacks, tearing the car apart, and scouring the ground, I discovered my keys comfortably nestled in the thigh pocket of my pants.

With spring right around the corner, I for one am excited for the season of renewal…and I’m hopeful that it will bring a rebirth in my memory. In part because all these incidents have been embarrassing, but also because one of these days I won’t have someone there to cover my absentmindedness.

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