How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?
That sound you hear is me breathing a huge sigh.
Of relief? Of frustration? Honestly, I don’t know.
I wish I could use the beginning of the year as a time for introspection, setting intentions, and focus on becoming a better and more centered version of myself. I usually sprint to the end of the year and after the rush of the holidays, you can usually find me overly pensive and reflective in the days leading up to my birthday in late January, with the lyrics to “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent stuck in my head. You might have heard it before: “525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear, 525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?”
My name is Kaylé and in addition to loving musicals, I’m a friend, sister, daughter, employee, and also a creator. I started my project The Great Outchea in June of 2016. Over the course of the past year and a half, this passion project that started on a whim, has become so much more than a weekly post. It’s connected to me to a diverse and passionate group of people across the country (and globe!) who have their own reasons and stories for caring about conservation, diversity and inclusion outdoors — people like Jainee who graciously offered me the opportunity to write for this Journal. I said yes even though I sometimes feel like a fraud. Wylder is for the modern outdoorswoman.
Is that me? I don’t know.
During Thanksgiving, when the outdoor community was focusing on “Opting Outside” instead of or in addition to shopping on Black Friday, all I had time for was a walk around the neighborhood with my family. Sometimes (oftentimes!) on the weekends, I sleep in if I can and laze around our apartment instead of exploring the plentiful nearby nature we’re afforded living in the Bay Area. And when I do make it outside for a long hike or camping trip, it’s often with my fiancé. All these reasons and many more make me doubt myself.
I started The Great Outchea to highlight and celebrate people of color in the outdoors (of which I am one... sometimes), because all too often people of color are ignored and neglected in narratives about outdoors culture. I love seeing and sharing the photos and stories of people living their best lives outside including my own, but oftentimes I don't even feel “outdoorsy” enough. I’m not out here hiking every day, camping every weekend, and scaling mountains. I have a full-time job which I enjoy and don’t anticipate quitting anytime soon. I have relationships in which I want to invest, hobbies and interests outside of spending time outdoors, and a relatively new job planning a wedding. I’ve got a lot of demands on my time, and a lot of self-imposed expectations.
So what’s a girl to do?
Last Saturday, instead of going hiking, I met up with a new friend for coffee. The connection was instant, conversation was flowing, and I was so grateful for the time we were making to spend together. When our conversation turned to what we were working on, I mentioned not feeling outdoorsy enough for my involvement with The Great Outchea she asked me to define what “enough” would look like. I didn’t have an answer.
I sat there in silence thoroughly checked, and stalled with a long sip of coffee.
I don’t know what “enough” looks like, but I know what it feels like — it feels like the freedom to choose which activities I want to do, with whom, and when. Last year that looked like visiting six National Parks in the U.S. and one in Canada, one backpacking trip, and innumerable hikes with friends in the Bay Area. It also looked like going to the SHIFT festival where the seeds of the awesome Diversify Outdoors coalition were formed.
So how will I measure 2018?
In National Parks?
In trees and hillsides?
I hope to put down my expectations and stress, and pick up and choose to measure my life in gratitude for the yet-to-be scheduled trips that will pop up and for the more relaxed times when I just need to notice the natural world around me; gratitude for the times when I’m able to be outside as fully as I want to; and grace for the times when I feel like I should be doing more.
Words + Photos by Kayle Barnes @thegreatoutchea