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Life should… July 26, 2017

Posted by Marc Troeger in Uncategorized.
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“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman

Little Backpack October 15, 2014

Posted by Marc Troeger in Uncategorized.
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She gave me a smile and said hi as she sat down next to me at the bar.

I smiled back, twirling the wedding ring on my finger.  She seemed to be in her early 20s; attractive – a cute little hook-nose and bright blue eyes, dressed in jeans and a Washington Huskies hoodie.  Little pink earrings peaked out from her short, dark hair.

Many at the bar seemed to know her and called out her name “Hi, Stephanie!”  A few came up and gave her a hug.  One called out “Who’s your boyfriend sitting next to you?”  Stephanie giggled, covering her face.  The stool on her right was empty.  The stool on her left… was me.  I looked up confused and embarrassed.  Everyone at the bar gave me a friendly, affirmative smile.  The bar tender gave me a wink.

I travel most every week for my job.  I don’t like eating a “bag” dinner in my hotel room so, not being a big fan of “chain” restaurants, I seek out local pubs and restaurants for my nightly meals.  I usually end up sitting at a bar for my dinners as bar tenders can be a good dinner companion, whether I have a drink during my meal or not.

Tonight I chose a pub in a neighborhood a mile-or-so from my hotel.  It was simple and cozy.  Monday night football was playing quietly on the few TVs scattered around.  The bar was not too crowded- a friendly bunch of people, talking and laughing.  I found a seat and settled in.  A little later, Stephanie came in and sat next to me.

The bar tender brought Stephanie a big, purple crayon and paper place mat.  It was covered in games and puzzles.  Stephanie immediately went to work.

Intently, she focused on each and every puzzle, her tongue jutting out of the corner of her mouth.  Occasionally, a shock of hair dropped over her eyes.  She impatiently swiped at it as she continued to work away at the word phrases she was trying to solve.   Several times, someone would walk by, patting her on the back, offering words of encouragement.

Eventually, Stephanie solved all the puzzles on her paper place mat.  She raised her arms high in the air and shouted “Yeah!”  The bar, waiting, erupted in claps and cheers.  Stephanie beamed with joy.

“Her mom works next door at the Dollar General.” The bartender told me a few minutes later as he brought her an orange soda in a plastic cup.  The cup had a lid on top with a straw sticking out, little cartoon characters decorated the outside.  “Stephanie joins us when she finishes her volunteer work across the street.  We all look out for her when her mom works late on Mondays.”  “You’re in the lucky spot next to her tonight.  I can move you if you want.”

“No.” I said with a smile, “I’ll be fine.”  My dinner arrived and I began to eat.

For the next 10-15 minutes, people stopped by to say hi to Stephanie.  They asked how her mom was doing and wanted to know about her new job as a volunteer at the animal shelter.  Stephanie beamed as she told them about all the puppies and kittens she cared for.  She was especially excited to tell them of the mother cat who had recently given birth to 6 kittens.

As I was finishing my dinner, a woman came into the bar.  Several people greeted her as she approached. Stephanie jumped off her stool and threw her arms around her in a big hug.  “I finished the puzzles, mom!” She proudly exclaimed.

“That’s great, Steph!” her mom exclaimed.  “You are so good at those puzzles!”

Stephanie’s mom was middle aged – slightly overweight with a pile of bottle-blond hair curled on top of her head.  She wore simple tan, polyester slacks and a black collared shirt emblazoned with the “Dollar General” logo.  Her face was cheerful, though it showed a weariness that, surprisingly she wore with pride.  Her beauty showed through when she smiled- a smile she shared with Stephanie.

“I have a present for you.”  Her mom said as she sat on the stool next to her, placing a big, brown paper bag on the bar.

Stephanie’s eyes lit up in awe.  “Can I open it?” She asked.

“Of course!” her mom laughed.

With a giggle, Stephanie grabbed the bag and reached in, pulling out a bright, pink backpack covered in little blue and yellow butterflies.

As the brown paper bag drifted to the floor, the world in that little bar seemed to stop.  All eyes were on Stephanie.

Holding the pink backpack at arm’s length, she sat there stunned.  It was hard to describe her reaction.  It was the look a child would have if every amazing, magical moment happened at once, right before her eyes.  Utter joy at something so simple.

Around the bar, there was nothing but big grins on everyone’s faces and even a sparkle or two of a tear.  It was obvious they had seen this before.  And it seemed they couldn’t contain themselves as they saw it again.

Stephanie suddenly let out a squeal, jumped off her stool and began doing a little, twirly dance, all the while hugging her pink backpack tight.  “I love it!  I love it!”  She shouted.  She ran to her mom and gave her a big hug.

“Thank, you!  Momma!  It’s so pretty.  It’s such a cool backpack!  I love the butterflies!” Stephanie exclaimed.  She hugged it to her chest; eyes tightly closed a big, bright smile on her face.

Not to be selfish with her gift, Stephanie began running from person to person around the bar, showing everyone her pink backpack, pointing to all the little butterflies and the zippers and straps and pockets. “It’s so pretty!  I love it!” she kept telling everyone.

Eventually she made her way back to her stool and sat down hugging her pink backpack tight.  The colors matched the earrings she wore.

Looking over at me, she suddenly realized that I had not been included in her show-and-tell and moved closer to share her new treasure with me.  I felt honored to be included.

Stephanie showed me the butterflies.  I asked her how many there were.  She started counting and very soon lost track.  “There are too many to count!”  She exclaimed a bit amazed.

I asked her about all the pockets and zippers on her new backpack.  She proceeded to open them up and offered to let me help her explore.  I pointed out a place where she could keep her pens, and grabbed a pen off the bar and stuck it in the little pen pocket.  She giggled with excitement.  I pulled a business card out of my pocket and stuck it in a little clear pocket, showing her where she could keep her own cards and pictures.  She covered her mouth and laughed.  I found an old receipt and stuck it in another pocket.  Stephanie giggled even louder and clapped her hands.

The bar tender joined in handing me a stack of the puzzle place mats.  We tucked them into one of the bigger zippered pocket.  The purple crayon went in next along with a handful of bar coasters.  All at once, people up and down the bar were handing things pulled from pockets and purses.  A spoon made it next to the crayon.  A nail file fit into an empty spot along with a pack of chewing gum, a roll of mints, a plastic wrapped package of tissues, a tattered Washington Huskies mascot stuffed animal and even a few coins and dollar bills.  The little pink backpack began to bulge as more items were handed over to stuff into all its nooks and crannies.  Stephanie could hardly contain herself as she laughed and laughed, jumping off her stool, clapping her hands and doing her little, twirly dance.

It was when someone tried to stuff an old, tattered phone book into the backpack that Stephanie’s mom stepped in laughing.  “All right everyone!  That’s enough.  Thank you so much for adding all these treasures to Stephanie’s backpack.  With all this stuff, she won’t be able to carry the things she really needs in here!”

Everyone laughed and began returning to their drinks and conversations.

After a few minutes of talking with people around her, Stephanie’s mom turned to her. “Steph, sweetie, we need to go.  You have an early day at the animal shelter tomorrow and I have to open up the store in the morning.”

Without complaint, Stephanie grabbed her plastic cartoon cup of orange soda and finished it off with a slurp.  She grabbed her new backpack and slung it over her shoulder.  With a big smile, she went to each and every person sitting at the bar and offered big hugs.  I was not left out.

Hand-in-hand, Stephanie and her mom walked out the door waving.

As the door closed, the bar area became a bit quiet.  With smiling faces, there was a sudden need to stare into our drinks as everyone held onto the lingering echoes of laughter and squeals of joy.

Quietly, but so that all at the bar could hear, a voice spoke up “To that inner child in all of us.”  I looked up and many were raising their glasses.

I joined the toast and, with a little break in my voice added, “And to the one that sits beside us, too.”

Living your Passion September 21, 2014

Posted by Marc Troeger in Uncategorized.
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To understand what living your passion is all about, watch this inspiring video by Mickey Smith. You definitely won’t be wasting the 6 minutes it will take to view it.

Breathe more and Avoid McDonalds September 23, 2013

Posted by Marc Troeger in Uncategorized.
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This isn’t my post. It’s a post by Will Gadd. It’s more than a year old and has so much meaning. It’s not a person I aspire to be, but a lifestyle I aspire to attain. Actually, for anyone, it’s something we can all do, achieve and become. As he says (paraphrased), “Breathe more and Avoid McDonalds”

The original post is here ( http://willgadd.com/breathe-avoid-mcdonalds/ )

Breathe, avoid McDonalds. Jun 26, 2012/by Will Gadd/Making time to breathe./Eat Pho, not McDonalds.

I’m now 45 years old. A middle aged guy. My life has changed radically with each decade, and I’ve done a lot of stuff that isn’t really award-worthy. But there has almost always been one constant that I’m actually proud of: Nearly every single day I do something physical. I count every hour in motion as a victory. Every time I slip out of the house when the kids are asleep in the morning or evening and bike, hike, run, ski or just walk for an hour or two it’s a victory. You see, as someone smarter once figured out, an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. So if I stay at rest for more than a day or two then I’m likely to stay there. Screw that, I’ve got to keep in motion. I can see what happens to people when they stop moving. They die.

I figure the type of movement is less important than the movement itself. I see a super fat lady out walking up a steep hill on a street and think, “Damn, that must be hard. You are a legend. All the houses you’re walking past right now? They’re full of people who make excuses not to get out and walk. And you’re out here going at it. You’re my hero.” I never say this because I don’t want to seem patronizing, but I truly feel it. I see the old guy cranking the Grouse Grind and think, “I want to be you.” I value my stolen hour in the gym as much as I value a day in the mountains; a day in the mountains is easy once you’ve left the desk, but the day I had to fight for an hour at the gym was a victory over life’s demands. And every day in the mountains was surely a great day too…

I go through airports all the time and see what the North American “lifestyle” is doing to people. The farther south you go in North America in general the fatter people get. And airports are where nutritional truth is revealed; I just finished up a meal at an airport restaurant and spent some time perusing what other people were eating. As usual, the rather large dude had a massive plate of nachos, a fried burrito disaster literally dripping with something gelatinous, and a diet Coke. The skinny bastard had a beer, tacos, and left most of the chips (not me, I was hungry as hell and ate ‘em). I got onto the last flight of the day behind two large people carrying a bag full of licorice and other sugar; their kids were already super sized, and that just sucks for them. What sucks more is that huge parents and fat elementary-school kids are now the norm, not the exception. Something is wrong.

Look at the lineup to McDonalds in the airport or any food court and then look at the lineup at the “Edo” place. I guarantee the lineup at the burger (read burger with huge white bread bun, huge fries, huge milkshake/apple pie etc) stand will be far fatter than any other lineup (and the costs aren’t all that different so no excuses there). If you want to see what people truly eat study airport dining, it’s like watching life through a one-way mirror. And then look at the people who walk the stairs vs. ride the escalator, who stand on the conveyor belts instead walking. Things get real clear real quick: Eat shitty food and avoid exercise and you’ll stop moving and get larger. And once you get past a certain point it’s a lot harder to move (my hero lady aside). And if you stop moving you die. We’re all circling the drain every day of our lives; move faster and you stay farther from the hole for longer, like a marble in the sink.

But making time to breathe can be hard. You have to fight for it. I’m proud of the times I win the fight to breathe hard. Today I had three business meetings in two cities separated by an hour’s drive, plus the flight home. I got up early and had one of the best hour-long hike/runs I’ve had in years in the mountains near Ogden, Utah. I revel in the landscape of the American west; it’s literally intoxicating to me. The scrub oak, the smells, the dirt, I love it, and I would have missed it if I hadn’t gotten up early. As I struggled up to a ridge and then scrambled along the rocks and back down I felt life was beautiful in a way I would not have experienced if I’d lazed over breakfast instead of getting a coffee and moving. That’s all the time difference I really needed: coffee and go vs. sitting down. I ended my last meeting with just enough time to scrape in 45 minutes at the climbing gym on the way to the airport. Then it was a mad sprint to the airport, drop the rental car, do a “dry” shower in the airport bathroom, onto the flight. You think I’m bragging? I am. I hear people bragging about how many beers they drank the night before like it’s an accomplishment. Well it is sometimes, but I’m way more proud of every single day I’ve spent some time sucking oxygen hard than I am of the times I drank too much, slept in, wasted time sending useless but somehow important emails or whatever. Because as I look back at those wasted days there was almost always an hour or two I could have sliced out to get out and breathe. I hate those wasted days; I have never regretted working out, going for a walk, getting on a plane stinking, not once. In fact, I’ve loved every single experience. But we all try to be busy instead of being alive, be busy instead of getting out and breathing, be busy instead of being productive, be busy sending useless texts instead of walking in the woods with our kids or running there with our friends…. I do it too, but I’m missing the point of life when I let “busy” replace “breathing.”

And lately I’ve been hanging out with some people who don’t get the beautiful luxury of being able to just go out and move, whether it’s in the mountains or the gym or whatever. Their broken or malfunctioning bodies won’t let them. Yet they still fight for time outside in the sun, drink in the day, and exercise as best they can. If they can fight to literally breathe at all and still exercise, if the fat lady can get out the door and move, if the guy in the business suit can jam the stairs instead of the escalator just for the sheer hell of it then most of us have no excuses at all. Keep moving, keep breathing, keep the inertia on your side. Rest days should be a welcome anomaly, not a way of life. And avoid lineups with lots of morbidly obese people in them, it’s a sign of what the future looks like if you spend too much time in the same places… Airports, American chain restaurants and conveyer belts all move us closer to the drain hole. Keep the good momentum up. Life’s more fun when you move.

Anatomy of an Adventure (in Everything) January 10, 2012

Posted by Marc Troeger in Uncategorized.
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I met Matt Walker last year when I attended the Cochise Stronghold Rock Climbing Camp, hosted by his adventure company, Inner Passage.  Matts patience as a teacher and leader made the three days of instruction and climbing in the desert south of Tuscon, Arizona, an amazing experience.   I walked away from that camp learning far more about myself and what I can accomplish.  It was an incredible adventure.

Prior to attending the climbing camp, Matt assigned us readings to complete, one of those was his Five Elements of Adventure, which he has since published in his inspiring and motivational book, Adventure in Everything.  The premise of the five elements is to guide the reader in discovering and developing adventure in all aspects of his or her life.

I have to be honest, I had hesitations in taking on my “50 Adventures” project until I sat down and finally read a copy of the book he had sent me a few months earlier.  It’s what opened my eyes and helped me to understand that adventure in someone’s life is more than a mountain to climb; it is, as he put is “finding it is a lifestyle choice that reconnects you with your dreams and passions”.

A synopsis of those five elements are below.  Read them once and then read them a second time.  Then, read them one more time and this time ask yourself the question: “How can adventure be a part of my life?”

The Five Elements of Adventure (from Matt Walker’s book, Adventure in Everything):

  1. High Endeavor – To aim for a life with high endeavor is to set goals for ourselves that are worthy of our energy, love and passion.
  2. Uncertain Outcome – adventures suggests not knowing how something is going to [ultimately] turn out; a series of uncertain outcomes and coming to peace with this concept allows for opportunity.  Opportunity activates adventure.
  3. Totally Committed – pursuit with flexibility about its outcome, detachment from its results and complete and total focus on the task at hand.
  4. Tolerance for Adversity – Being nimble in the face of seeming defeat; we can either succumb to defeat or turn the situation into an opportunity to find more creative ways to triumph.
  5. Great Companionship – When we pursue our endeavors with the benefit of the company of others, we have the opportunity to give unselfishly, receive sincere feedback, support one another and work together to reach goals that are unattainable on our own.

And the Adventure Continues… October 9, 2010

Posted by Marc Troeger in aging, humor, journey, life, Uncategorized.
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I posted on my blog, a few years ago, something I wrote titled “Growing Old… NOT!”  I’m reposting it below as a personal tribute to my 48th birthday, but more importantly,  to all those who could care less about how old they are or what condition they are in and continue to do so many amazing things everyday.  I look at my parents, who are in their 70s and continue to travel the world, always looking for their next adventure.  To Holly, who struggles with Freidriech’s Ataxia yet continues to live her life to the fullest (see her postings at:  Hollys Hope).  To my friend Bruce, who has struggled over the years with cancer and is even now awaiting another diagnosis; regardless of his condition, he has and continues to have such an amazing impact on so many peoples lives.  And to the many people you know and admire who continue to amaze you with how they persevere and what what they accomplish.

Living has nothing to do with age, nor your health, nor the obstacles you face.  Living is how you move on with what you have and make the best of it… one adventure at a time.

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[The following was Originally posted at www.mountainblogs.com on December 2, 2008 by Marc Troeger]

I turned forty a few years ago… but it didn’t bother me at the time. A few weeks ago, I innocently mentioned several aches and a few pains to my wife after doing an early morning run. Her response: “That’s what happens when you get older.

My response back her through clenched teeth: “I-am-not-going-to-get-older!”  And that’s the truth.

I refuse to feel my age. I refuse to recognize a little of the spread that’s taking place in my mid-section. I refuse to acknowledge the grays appearing on my top section. And I refuse to give up on the youth that I have always felt within me; the silliness, that care-free attitude toward life… that quest for adventure every waking hour. But, then… how do I ignore the inevitable?
I came up against that question once again, very recently while reading a book by Joe Simpson. Joe is best known for the incredible account of trial and tragedy in the mountains in his book Touching the Void. In his latest book, The Beckoning of Silence, he writes on many topics surrounding his mountaineering adventures, the loss of close friends and an introspective look at the risks he has taken in his life and what that means to him today. In particular, he relies on his insight and wisdom of his age (he is the same age as me!) and writes about youth and old age. In challenging his own advance down the trek of time, he offers this quote by Samuel Ullman :

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a temper of the Will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions. It is a freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a tempermental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty more than in a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin; but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the heart and turn the greening spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and at starlike things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what next and the joy of the game of living. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

Yeah… me… that’s me… I-am-not-going-to-get-old!