It’s a joke amongst our group, Army of Darkness, that you have to “earn it”: earn your campfire hobo meal and drink of choice (glasses of wine / swigs of tequila) by pumping yourself out climbing that 5.11, grinding up a set of never-ending switchbacks on some gnarly trail, or engaging in some other activity that renders you exhausted, bloody or bruised or provides an epic story around the campfire that night (or both).
If you did, you earned it.
Lately, the concept of “earning it” has taken on more levels of meaning for us. Earning something, by working for it, puts it up on a pedestal – because you had to put in significant effort to achieve it, that “something” is always sweeter / brighter / sparklier / more powerful of a something, right? The carrot dangling just out of reach, when finally reached, tastes like filet mignon.
We used to earn our weekend excursions with friends. Wednesday would bring conversations with Tom about the advantages of climbing at Indian Creek versus Escalante this particular weekend – or would the weather lend itself better to dirt biking The Plateau? The anticipation of meeting up with friends at X location was enhanced by the daily work grind – each flight to Denver (Stéphane), project completed (me), or email sent checked an invisible box, earned us invisible points that we could cash in on the weekend.
The dangling carrot we lusted after kept our work routine a well-oiled, productive machine: we worked hard so we could play hard! The lesson we have learned lately is that when you don’t have to earn the carrot, it’s less tasty: the Black Box wine tastes less like a Chateauneuf du Pape and more like what it is – cheap wine. The hobo meal isn’t quite as flavorful and the tequila really does burn on the way down.
Spending time doing things we love with the people we love is a gift that we get to open every day. I know that once we start working we will miss the freedom of these times, but I think we will appreciate our excursions more once we get back to earning them.