Several years ago Melissa and I attended an intensive Wilderness First Responder course through NOLS. At the time I was leading a search and rescue team in South Texas and in addition to these duties, I felt that with all the outdoor travel we did we should both be highly proficient in wilderness medicine. In addition, we both had background and training in combat medical care and I had been through a previous workshop on short term care in third-world travel, lessons that would pay off years later when sick while on business travel.
One of the first things you learn about is patient assessment. When responding to a patient one of the first things you try to learn about is their mental state. This is measured in the parameters of “Alert and Conscious”. If a person is awake, alert, and orientated to the point they know who they are, where they are and what just happened to them they are AAOX4. Moving down the scale, AAO3, the patient knows who they are, the place and time, but not event. A bit more of a knock on the head and AAOX2 they know who they are, where they are, but not time and event. Skipping all the way down to AAOX0, The person is awake and alert, but is disoriented. They probably don’t know who they are, where they are, time, place, or event that has just happened. I spend most of my life At AAOX0.
Leading adventure is the one place I have clarity. AAOX4. Here I live beyond the boundaries of corporate life. Here there are more important things than running from meeting to meeting with a note book and pen, pre-scripting an email to not offend, or pulling off the impossible to meet a deadline an impatient narcissistic soul.
I am by no means an anti-corporate guy. I have worked for a big machine, including my military career for over 30 years. Even when I was a kid and contracted to clear fields for a housing development I contracted to a corporation. (Who in their right mind would sign a contract with a 14-year old?)
Working for a large machine has enabled me to have some great experiences around the globe, provide my family with a nice home and good health benefits, and meet some fantastic people. Large organizations have helped to pave the way for my education and many of the certifications I hold today.
What I have to realize is that at the end of the day, actually at the beginning of the day, as a person, whatever corporation I work for really does not care about me. They don’t care that I nearly lost my wife a few years ago to depression, that my Jeep was on blocks until 4am for repairs, that my kiddo has a recital, or that the project I am doing to further their growth kept me awake all night. This isn’t an indictment, its simple fact. For all my hard work, creative ideas, and long hours, at the end of the day I am a number. If I need to be cut so the company financials look good to investors, I’ m out. If I get moved to another division because of a restructure, I pack boxes and move three desk down. If I get turned down for a position because of budget, I stay put. Its part of the grind. In spite of skills and talent, I am a commodity.
When on expedition, my moments are much more clear. My motives are purer. I have a destination, a goal, a pursuit. Making sure my vehicle is running well and that we packed the right adventure gear, and then selecting our home for the evening has much more clarity.
Even in the planning stages. I get much more satisfaction in setting up maps, the project plan, and prep work that hoes into a long expedition. Upon returning, putting together the presentation of the trip is much more satisfying.
Here I have opportunities to experiment. Here I can risk. Here I learn. I realize I have to have one to support the other. My day job supports my adventure profession. I just wish there was a way to merge the two closer….if that is even possible.
For now I will take my moments of clarity in weekends and two-week vacations. I will continue to roam the region I live in. I will take advantages of the trips around the globe when my company offers the opportunity. I will find it in the time with my wife and daughter on the trail, roaming the desert with my dog, teaching others about outdoor adventure, and the moments God grants me a path through the fog….