Two years. That’s how long it has been since I graduated from college. It’s also how long it’s been since I pinned a number to my jersey and raced my bike. Now, I’m a young professional who spends his weeks hanging out at coffee shops and breweries and working at a trendy tech company and his weekends living the outdoorsy Pacific Northwest lifestyle: skiing, climbing, hiking, and cycling. I can’t remember the last time I spent a weekend alone with myself‒a blessing and a curse. My days and weeks are filled with friends and activities and meaningful experiences, but I haven’t had a chance to stop and reflect for a long time.

What have I been doing? I’ve been working, and the knowledge I have now would blow the mind of the version of me who started at Qualtrics in August of 2017. I’ve been “exercising”, although I dislike that word, because staying active should never feel like a chore. However, between cycling, rock climbing, running, skiing, yoga, and hiking, I definitely sometimes overwhelm myself. I’ve been teaching, volunteering with TEALS to remotely teach a high school computer science class in North Dakota which means early mornings to call in to their first period. I’ve been traveling, to Pullman to be with Sarah, to Utah and Montana and Idaho and the Sierras to ski, to the Bay Area for my sister’s graduation and holidays, to Cleveland and New York to visit family, to North Dakota to visit my class, and that’s just in the past six months!

Just writing that out exhausts me, but right now, I wouldn’t trade it for much (except perhaps to be closer to Sarah). I love the life I’m living, and while I wish that I had a little more self control around donuts and cookies and that I didn’t spend quite so much time in bed after waking up looking at social media, I know that I’m lucky.

One question I’ve been asking myself recently is if I’ve changed since college, and if so, by how much? It’s a hard question for me to answer; in many ways I feel no different than I did two years ago. A lot has obviously happened since then, and I’ve grown with each new experience, but I don’t think the core of who I am has been altered significantly. Perhaps the best way for me to think about this is by using a programming framework called Akka streams as a metaphor. I am a stream; I have a source, I am flowing, and eventually (hopefully not soon) I will end in a sink.

Whistler in January

Source

When did I become who I am today? Not an easy question to answer, so let’s just say that at some point in my past, I appeared out of some nebulous source into a full-fledged human being with thoughts and dreams and hopes, and ever since then, I’ve been flowing.

The emerald city

Flow (Part One)

I first tried yoga back in high school, when my journalism teacher Ms. Quiter would teach a class after school (I think on Wednesdays, although I don’t remember for sure). Ellis and I would go, and while we weren’t very good with our skinny cyclist arms, stretching and core work was much appreciated by our bodies. In college, some of us from the cycling team went to Wednesday night yoga at the RSF, which usually ended with me cursing myself for doing intervals earlier that day while trying to hold warrior 2 or chair pose. When I moved to Seattle and started rock climbing, I was pleasantly surprised that climbing gyms include regular yoga classes as part of their membership. During most of 2018, I practiced on Thursday mornings at SBP, and since switching to Momentum earlier this year, I’ve been attending a Monday evening class as regularly as I can.

Yoga has been great because of the physical benefits, but maybe even more importantly, during practice I can let go of everything else and be fully in the moment. I am not very good at silent meditation, as my thoughts tend to wander very quickly, but it’s hard to think about much else while flowing through a sun salutation. In this always on world, I am grateful for the hours I can sneak away, and I know that yoga will remain a part of my lifestyle wherever I go.

Iceland, before my mom fell and broke her wrist

Flow (Part Two)

About halfway through college, I came to the realization that I had neither the talent nor the aching need to race professionally, but I still enjoyed racing my final two years. Since I moved to Seattle, I’ve been riding, but neither as often nor as structured, and in doing so I have rekindled my love for the bike. A couple weeks ago, a couple friends and I did a 120 mile ride, 6.5 hours of fun and pain and nostalgia. These days, I can’t produce the same power as I could when I was training, but on the bike, I still feel that smooth pedal stroke and quiet confidence honed over so many miles and hours in the saddle. When I ride, I feel the same freedom I felt riding around Orinda at 12 years old on my first road bike, and it is that sensation that assures me that I am still the same person I was 12 years ago.

Backpacking in the Cascades

Flow (To Be Continued)

Tomorrow morning, my busy life continues with bouldering in the foothills of the Cascades followed by a party at a friend’s house, followed by three days in Pullman with Sarah, and then a backpacking trip to the Enchantments next weekend. I don’t know when the itch to write will strike again, but until it does, I will strive to be present in every moment, to take time to get away from it all, and always, always, to be authentically myself.