How Do You Know if You Have it Figured Out?

What does it mean to have it figured out?  That term gets tossed around with the “it” of course referring in some way or another back to “life.”

“He/she has it figured out.”

People say that, but what does it really entail?  It could be in reference to the young to middle-aged, fit looking guy wearing well-fitted clothes who rolls up in an Audi and sips his single malt neat.  On the other end of the spectrum it could be the guy who only owns two pairs of pants and lives out of the back of his truck/van so that he can climb/kayak/ski/snowboard/bike all the time.  Maybe it’s the girl who just got accepted to the prestigious law program she has been working towards since she started building a CV at age twelve.  Who has it figured out?  Anybody?

Most of the time I feel like I don’t really have it figured out yet.  I mean after all, I’m largely not sure what I’m doing with my life.  I work at a job that I like well enough, but it’s by no means a career.  My lifestyle is comfortable, but far from lavish.  There are plenty of things that I like—running, cooking, climbing, traveling, reading, writing—but I have yet to figure out how to make any of those into a living.  So it seems as though I don’t really have it figured out.

But then something happens that makes me stop and think, makes me look at it from a different perspective.

Walking down a dirt road in Vedauwoo, my daughter on one side, my girlfriend on the other, and a pack full of climbing gear on my back, I am struck with an overwhelming feeling of happiness.  Under a bright blue Wyoming sky, I have just spent one of the first truly warm days of the year doing something I love with two people I love in one of my favorite places.  In that moment I feel happy.  And that’s it.  There isn’t the faintest trace of anything else on my mind, no thoughts of work the next day, the career I don’t have, none of it.

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It’s not until I think back on that time that I have a sort of realization.  If I can put my life together in such a way as to have that feeling, if even sometimes I can find myself in the right place, with the right people, doing the right thing to be happy, maybe I’m on to something.  I usually wear jeans and drink beer, and I might well be a weekend warrior at the crags, and I most certainly bailed on state university grad school after two semesters, but despite all that, perhaps even because of all that, I can be happy.

So, do I have it all figured out?  Not a chance in hell.  But I’ve figured out how to spend a day outside, with people that are important to me, doing something that is important to me.  And I’ve figured out that that makes me happy.  And I think that’s enough.

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