"Let us love nobly, and live, and add again years and years unto years, till we attain to write threescore: this is the second of our reign." —John Donne
"Fortunate too is the man who has come to know the countryside." —Voltaire
Anniversaries are a bit like a close friend’s wedding—cause for celebration, but also a clear reminder of lost, irreplaceable time. With each anniversary, another year is passed, gone, irretrievable—another precious year of our short, tenuous lives, gone forever… one step closer to death! Okay, so it’s not that bad; no reason to be so sullen and morbid. But here at Outside Bozeman, Spring 2004 brings our fifth anniversary—and we’re not quite sure how we feel about it.
On the one hand, there’s maturity, stability, a sense of purpose and accomplishment. But on the other, there’s, well, maturity, stability, a sense of purpose—those crusty old notions we used to mock ruthlessly as we loaded our beat-up cars with skis and fishing rods, dashing off on whatever adventure sprang to mind, wondering if we’d make it back to town in time for work but not really caring if we didn’t. There were other construction crews, other bars and gas stations: other means of obtaining the piddly paychecks required to cover rent and a few ten-packs of generic burritos. Our edict was seize the day or die—an unspoken mantra that permitted no deviation, no faltering: no spineless submission to the forces guiding us in other, more socially-acceptable directions. The minute you succumbed, you became a zombie: a member of the walking dead. So long, sucker.
At the same time, the past five years have taught us a thing or two. Namely, that freedom and desire manifest themselves in many ways, and that most everything is subject to some degree of change. Like a river flowing through the eons, we too evolve, as do the forces acting upon us. Our lives, and our priorities, are constantly being shaped—by environmental conditions, other people, and our own shifting ideals and perspectives. The fluctuating demands of life are not necessarily to be eschewed, but rather carefully assessed as they appear before us. The trick—the way to win the bloody battle of youth vs. maturation—is to be like the river itself. Never forget your source, never let the headwaters run dry; but allow all streams to flow into you. You can then guide them into pools, eddies, or main currents—however circumstances and inclination dictate—as you make your long journey to the sea.
So this spring, take some time and get to know the countryside within as well as without. Do it before it’s too late, before your bones creak and your belly sags, before you’ve forgotten where your wellspring lies. And do it anyway you can—with reckless abandon, occasional impulse, or with a measured, systematic approach. Don’t let yourself become a perpetually desk-bound zombie—but at the same time, know that you can seize the day at your own pace, in your own way.