We climbed hard through the week, Wednesday-Friday. We had a solid day on Friday and drove back to San Diego from Idyllwild. I didn’t allow the thoughts of my upcoming week dampen my mood, but somewhere deep inside I felt the fires light and my inner steel smelting and reforming into a different version of me–preparing for the grind. Oh yes, it is that time of the year–it’s cryin’ time again. I have spent the past four months on the fringe of dirtbag existence living part time in San Diego, and part time out of tents and cars in the southwest deserts, and working very little.

If you climb or have allowed yourself the chance to give into any obsession that demands lifestyle I’m sure you can relate with the process. I call my old clients, “Hey, I’m back in town, so we can go ahead and tackle that big project we had talked about.” I call the old contractors that I’ve worked for, “Hey, I’m back and really eager to work. You have any leads?” I call my mentor, “Hey, I’m back. You need any help in the office?”

I started this strategy before I left on the Idyllwild trip. I’m committed to a big trip this summer, and in order to make that work I’m telling myself I need to put together $5,000-$10,000 by the end of June. $10,000 might sound like a lot of money, especially for a month trip, but this money will stretch much further than a month. There’s a very good chance that a month will stretch to two. It’s happened before, and I’ve learned to prepare a fund for those instances when I decide to extend my vacation by a month. It’s worth it to me. I’ll give up June so that I can spend a month in Wyoming, and then a month in Yosemite and the Sierras on my way back home. I’ll also bring my tool bags so that I can do side jobs on the road.

I always carry my bags. Behind all the cams, ropes, and camping gear are tools to build a house and work just about any professional trade at a Journeymen level. I learned a while back that Craigslist is a perfect networking tool for people like me. People who drift and stay under the radar and make just enough money to pay bills, stay fed, and climb. It’s not something that I want to do, but it’s something that I’m prepared for and willing to do. That’s how I make it work.

When I got home on Friday night I headed straight for the closet and started matching suits and ties. I went into the bathroom and set up my clippers and put a new blade on the razor. I turned on my computer, opened up the email containing my briefing for the new case I’m working on and began consuming massive amounts of information and quickly adapting to the new technology platforms that I was instructed to be versed in. I had exactly ten hours to be a professional worthy of my pay rate.

I was clean and sharp again and looking the part. In the morning I put on my cutest little suit, and tied my coolest little tie, and prepared my best act. I grabbed my tool bags and threw them in the trunk with a few extra bundles of electrical wire–just in case. I also threw in a pair of Chaco’s, climbing shoes, shorts, and a chalk bag–just in case. Nothing like some after work solos.

It’s cryin’ time again, except this time I’m not crying about it. Today I’m grateful to be as well versed in the world as I have become. I was talking to my friend Emma on our way to or from Idyllwild, I cannot remember which, about how perfectly these skills have amassed over the years to allow me such a versatile life. Light is not light without dark, and play is not play without work. We need contrast in our lives, because without it it can be easy to take the things and people we love for granted.

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