Finding Light in the Darkness
As I pulled into Lake Tahoe, my road trip across the Southwest came to a screeching halt. I’d be starting work soon in this small ski town and my contract would have me stay for the next 6 months. The unbridled happiness I’d felt for weeks was replaced with nausea in the pit of my stomach. Instinct told me something was wrong…this new town I’d call home did not sit well with me.
This feeling was familar and I’d experienced it only weeks before. The night before my attempt to climb the Middle Teton, I was struck by the same clouds of doubt and fear. After both instances, I’m beginning to see that our instincts are something we should learn to trust. That entire first day in Lake Tahoe day was a blur. I’ve never felt more down and helpless in a place and something here was seriously wrong. In a deserted IHOP at the edge of town, I ate a lonely dinner with only my thoughts to keep me company. A dingy bed greeted me later that evening and provided a short respite from the uncertainty and sadness that plagued me.
I found no comfort in the morning sun. Instead, I emerged from my room to find a horrible scene. My bike had been ripped from the back of my car and left thrown on my trunk was a rusted bike with a lock on the tires. Anger. Sadness. Loneliness. Panic. It all hit me like a ton of bricks. I was robbed.
The feelings I had the day before were validated but I didn’t have the option to give up and leave. I was going to make the most of this poor situation. I don’t back down that easy. Perhaps having a place to call my own might be what I needed so I turned my sights to the employee housing only a few miles away. The landlord was aloof and frantic to collect my $500 deposit. I asked to see the space before putting any money down and what I saw in the apartment was third world. It was more of a box than a room, adorned with vomit stained furniture, no wifi or cable and paid laundry facilities that looked at best, 20 years obsolete. Typically, these amenities will be included in a seasonal arrangements such as this, and for a price that was far less than what this place was offering. I couldn’t catch a break with a fucking net.
Filled with doubt and disgust I drove in circles to clear my head. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart beat with the intensity of a drum. I understood that I couldn’t live like this and my decision came quickly and with no regret. I left town in the late afternoon with absolutely zero heading and no idea what might lie in store.
As low as I was, I couldn’t go home; not yet. I took a longshot and called a place that I fell in love with only a week before. This place was, of course, the beautiful Zion National Park. Somehow, over the course of a 10 minute conversation with their HR representative, I was extended a job offer with no resume, no application, and no prior contact. I simply offered the promise that I could be there the next day to fill a position, and by god I kept my word. I drove 10 hours overnight to meet this condition but I would have driven 30 if it meant I’d be free from the miserable situation I was just in.
A day or so had passed since arriving and I settled into my new arrangement. All was well…and I was going through the motions. Laundry; check. Paperwork; check. To take a break from my “chores” I jumped on the provided wi-fi to check my social media and bank accounts. When my eyes caught my bank account balance, the color in my face was replaced with white. Near that mountain town I’d left behind, there were 5 unauthorized transactions that made nearly $3,000 disappear from my bank. Even as I type this months later, I am still trying to clean up the mess from this theft.
While the events that happened were indeed “unfortunate,” all is not lost. You see, a wise woman I met in my travels said that your experiences will always fall along a spectrum. She told me that the further your experiences go in the negative direction, the further you are free to go in the positive. Without the darkness, the light loses it’s meaning and without the clouds, the clear blue sky would never seem quite so marvelous.
In the month that followed in Zion, I had some of the most meaningful discussions, friendships and experiences that I’d only dream of back home. I met beautiful, intriguing people and learned about myself and life in the process. Although bad things did happen to me, there was a brilliant light at the end of the tunnel and a reason for the bad. So much beauty can be found when the positive in life is amplified by the negative and with hindsight’s perfect vision, I can say without fail that the wise woman was right.
As crazy as my life has been, it is SO beautiful. I’ve learned that to seek a life free of passion and sorrow is foolhardy, and I shouldn’t envy those who live without strife. At the end of it all, these experiences make me a stronger person and, more importantly, they supply me with the ingredients for a life truly worth living.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde