Note: I wrote and published this post for the first time on December 29, 2011 and described it as “making 2012 the year of maximum enthusiasm”. Every year around this time, I see a handful of friends sharing it again. This year I’m releasing it again, just changing the number 2012 to 2021 and a musician’s name (to keep it more current). I hope you enjoy it, whether you are reading it for the first time this year or for the tenth time.
On a Saturday morning last October, my friend Greg and I ran the North Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon, almost halfway there. We had run four miles and would run four more to Phantom Ranch where we could double-fist coffee and lemmy lemonade at the cantina before climbing 4,400 vertical feet up the south rim for a hike / run from Rand to end edge.
I turned in mid-step and said, “Hey, Greg!”
“Yes,” he said.
“We’re running in the Grand Canyon!”
Sometimes I can do great things and I kind of forget how great they are. Do you? I get stressed, involved in other things and forget how happy I am, how amazing life has turned out to be on most days and what special places I have seen. Most of the time, however, I try to keep a pretty good grip – trying to remember to turn around and yell to my friend that we are running down the most famous hole in the world, and that’s very special. Or, you know, remind someone of something special a few months later:
(Illustration: Brendan Leonard)
Kurt Vonnegut said in a speech to students at the University of Wisconsin in 2003: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy and to shout or mumble or at some point to think, ‘If that’s not nice, I’ll do it Not. ‘I don’t know what is. ‘”
In 2021, I urge you to notice when something is great, as it often is, and to shout it out or mumble it or just jot it down in your head. Isn’t it just damn fantastic that you are healthy, for example? Or running water or electricity? Or that you have enough money to actually pay someone else to make you a cup of coffee? Or, at any time in America, if you want ice cream, are you likely only five or ten minutes away from a place that sells some form of it? (Trust me on this one.)
Your life, even the bad parts, is fucking amazing. And most of the little things that make up your life are amazing too – mountain bike tours, climbing tours, slopes, sunsets, stars, friends, people, girlfriends, dogs, songs, movies, jokes, smiles … Hell, even the burrito You had lunch today was pretty phenomenal, wasn’t it?
What was your enthusiasm for these things over the last year? I recommend you step it up in 2021.
People may disagree with things like quality, maybe your taste in food, or whether a movie is good or not. But no one can argue with enthusiasm, especially if it’s over the top.
Do you think that the climb you just made is the greatest climb of all time? Great! If someone tries to tell you they don’t, who cares? “Greatest Rock Climb Ever” is not an objective title. So if you’re excited for a climb (or a trail run, or a peak view, or a bike ride, or a sunrise), don’t let anyone pounce you.
A conversation where someone puts on your favorite ski area / mountain / climbing / trail / burrito is not a conversation about ski areas / mountains / climbing / trails / burritos. It’s a conversation about this person being a pompous asshole. Go ahead and be positive in 2021.
Enthusiasm doesn’t have to withstand criticism. It doesn’t even have to really make sense. If you finish a slope, a mountain bike route or a sport climbing route and love it, I recommend that you try out new superlatives when describing it to someone else. This applies to anything that you are happy about. Examples:
- “I’m just going to tell you now that space is the most incredible via ferrata you will ever do. You can’t smile while climbing. It’s like the Beatles. Even if for some ridiculous reason you don’t enjoy it, you can’t deny its inherent goodness. “
- “Have you heard the new Brockbeats album? It will hit you on your ass! “
- “The Eggplant Parmesan Sub at Pasquini is probably my favorite sandwich in all of Denver, if not the state of Colorado. Now that I’ve said that, I think we should go to Pasquini right away. “
Maybe some of the things that you love that you are passionate is not cool. Hey, this is 2021. Everything is cool. Irony is either everything or dead. Be honest: when you see someone wearing a Mötley Crüe t-shirt, you don’t know if they’re serious or ironic, right? Do you like Mötley Crüe? Then rock the shit. And spread happiness.
Remember, it’s not illegal for high five people to do it. Do you use exclamation marks in your email salutations? Well why not?
Do you like to laugh Most people do, don’t they? Including baristas, waiters and retail staff. Perhaps at some point you had a real conversation with one of these people. This can sometimes start with honestly asking these people how they are, rather than treating them like a machine that will make you coffee or order your salad. This opens the door to make her laugh. If you play your cards right, you may well end up with a five-minute conversation.
Remember yesterday when you saw this one thing that reminded you of your one friend and you thought about how you would smile if you sent that friend a photo of the thing that reminds you of them? But then you didn’t send your friend this photo and it wasn’t great. Don’t do that again. Here’s what you do:
- Take the picture.
- Send it to your friend.
- Your friend is smiling. The world is a better place. Many Thanks.
You may have already made some New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat better, and read two books every month, whatever. How about doing another one to be a little better?
Note: The shirt in the drawing is now a real shirt that you can buy and wear if you want.
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Main illustration: Brendan Leonard