When I moved to Colorado about two decades ago it was sort of intended to be a stopover in a search to dare I say, “find myself”? Sounds cliche’ but that’s pretty much what was going down. Where I was living before Colorado was unfortunately shelling me as a human being. I knew that I wasn’t meant to be there all along but as many people do, you keep your head down, work hard, climb the corporate ladder, live in the right neighborhood, drive the right car and “be a success” as it’s generally defined by our society. Thankfully I snapped out of that lemming mentality and decided to break free and expand my horizons and start formulating my own definition of “success”.
To be honest, Colorado wasn’t even on the radar when we started looking around. Arizona, New Mexico and California were the original leaders. It was totally out of the blue that I found this job, got an offer and within weeks was living right here in the Boulder Valley. We thought it’d be cool for a while, but still had our eyes on those other places just in case Option D didn’t work out. It took about 30 seconds of feeling the vibe once we actually moved here to know we’d probably made the right decision.
A couple of years later, after getting more and more entrenched into our new laid back, free thinking way of living, we were strolling around Pearl Street, enjoying a cool summer night, listening to some live music and generally just groovin’ to all that is good. As fate would have it, we stumbled across a guy who was totally dialed into the universe in which we live. He was called Binger.
Binger was indeed quite the specimen, even by Boulder standards. He was 30-ish years old, sported loooong dreadlocks, an unkempt beard, tie-dye shirt, baggie patchwork jeans, well worn Birks and oozed an intoxicatingly groovy demeanor. He definitely wasn’t one of the Trustafarian rich kids who schlepp around Pearl Street in raggedy clothes with their medical marijuana cards, begging for change, pretending to be core hippies who later drive their Range Rovers back over to the Delta Douche-Bag Frat/Sorority House on the CU Campus. Nope, Binger was legit…100%.
Intrigued, I read his little handprinted sign sitting in front of his dilapidated card table with four stacks of multicolored paper sitting neatly atop. Looking back, this was where the decision to move to Colorado was completely validated and was a shining example of why we still live here in the GoreTex Vortex. His sign simply said:
Free hug with purchase of poem. $1
Well, yeah, if you know me at all you know I was ALL over that. I paid my one dollar and Binger gave me four options of poems that he himself had composed and had written with beautiful penmanship. I chose the one titled “Peace My Brother”, partly because I liked the name and partly because I liked the colour of paper this particular poem was written on — each poem having it’s own colour. From there, Binger, without script, notecard or teleprompter stood from his well worn camp chair and recited verbatim his page-long missive with the most heartfelt passion and enthusiasm I’d ever heard. Afterward, I got my free hug and he thanked me for accepting him as a person and for supporting the work of love.
I had walked no more than ten feet away when I stopped and walked back to Binger. I reached into my wallet and gave him a five, the only cash I had. He moved as if to hand me more poems but I assured him that wasn’t my purpose. I gave Binger another hug and carried on about my business. Binger exemplified the very reason I wound up here and had shown me exactly what I was looking for in a place to call home…a place where my mind, body and spirit can grow without limitation and be nurtured just by waking up every morning to realize I’m right where I need to be. No fear of going solo and beating my own drum as hard and as loud as I please.
Since then we’ve met countless people here in Colorado (and all over the west) who define just what “livin’ the dream” is all about. Many, many of them we are fortunate enough to call our friends. Elite athletes, entrepreneurs, students and students of life…our friends run the gamut of age and diversity. It’s just a vibe that binds us all together and is difficult, if not impossible, to explain. Everyone counts, even if they are a little difficult to understand at first, because they live here to “live the dream”, just like everyone else. No fear, just going for it 24/7, 365 a year with whatever they bring to the table. It’s not for everyone and a lot of people don’t “get it”. That’s okay because in the end we all migrate to where we feel comfortable and where we feel at home.
Because I’ll be reaching a milestone in my life next year, and because I always seem to have a project from one birthday to the next, I’ve decided to do a little photo diary here on my blog for the coming year. I’m doing this with hopes that I can sort of pay tribute to all the people who helped and are still helping me see that Colorado (and the west in general) is the place I was meant to be in life. Therefore, I’m going to be posting a picture or two from time to time of some of the groovalicious people I already know and some of those I meet along my journey…the people I think personify what living here in Boulder and Colorado in general is all about.
I’m going to call it Project 5430, which is the elevation here in the “People’s Republic”. And who knows, maybe 5,430 is the magic elevation that helps bring the unique energy and associated people to our valley. Once I get four or five people in my project, I’ll also start posting them on my website!!
So, here we go. Project 5430, Entry #1, September 29, 2010. (Yes, I know my birthday is still three weeks away, but I thought I’d get a head start. My project…my option! )
About three weeks ago, we were hanging out at Amante’s in Boulder with Caroline, a friend from Chicago, when another friend, Karen, from Boulder, stopped by to say hi. With her, she had three friends, Bryan, Greer and Lisa, who instantly became our friends…because that’s just how we roll it around here. Convoluted enough? Yack, yack, yack and before long we’re hanging out with new friends who instantly felt like we’d known them for years and years. Because rampant random meetings of kindred spirits is what makes Boulder the coolest place on earth, I’ve chosen my friend Bryan, who I met that night, to be the first person I want to “feature” in my Project 5430 effort. And let me say that he was kind enough to rally early this past weekend for a little photo shoot in and around Boulder. Story there, but it can wait for another time. Oh yeah, his totally awesome girlfriend Greer will be coming up in the project in the next few weeks…among others!
So let me tell you a little about Bryan. He’s a hard-man elite mountain biker (though he’d be the last person to tell anyone) who wound up in Boulder because his car broke down here. With too little money to fix the car to get back home and the energy of B-town gripping his soul like an extraterrestrial tractor beam, he decided to stay for a while, for about ten years now.
Early in his Boulder career, he worked various jobs ranging from professional couch surfer to bike mechanic to whatever he does now for some high tech joint that does stuff I have a hard time understanding. Bryan is very well educated, as funny as sh#&%, very well traveled around this crazy world, has definitely concocted his own and participated in other people’s off-the-wall adventures, is a damn nice guy and is of course a believer in “livin’ the dream”.
I’m extremely stoked to make Bryan my first entry to the project, but more importantly I’m stoked to call him my friend. Thanks Bryan.
Project 5430, yeah, I think this is going to be fun.
And yes, I still have the poem I got from Binger upstairs in the filing cabinet.
Run long. Paddle far. Climb high. Live big.