Category Travel

Brick by Brick

Seattle Shadows
© Brian Fitzgerald

Sometimes random events converge, seemingly by accident, and reveal a greater truth.

This week I jumped on a plane and flew some 3,000 miles to visit an ailing uncle—my father’s brother—at his home on Vashon Island near Seattle.  Along with my brother and two of my sisters, we spent time with him, sharing family stories, filling in gaps in our collective memories and laughing, a lot.  It was an impromptu visit, borne of a desire to connect with those who matter to me at a time of my choosing and not pulled by the usual forces of union and demise: marriage and death.  I didn’t even tell my friends living in the state because I wanted—needed—to focus on some family relationships long neglected. 

We, and I, had a great time. On the return flight, I came across a quote by New Zealander and writer Frank W. Boreham: “We make our decisions, and then our decisions turn around and make us.”  My trip made even more sense then.  

It’s a beautiful thought that our daily decisions—like that which led to me being on this very plane—are the very things that, over time, make us who we are. It’s easy to imagine that with each small decision, we are choosing to build our future selves, much like a building is built.  One brick at a time.

2023 in 2023

Maine Hiker
Maine Hike, © Brian Fitzgerald

My usual approach to annual goal setting involves a week in December carefully outlining each one in detail . Later I appreciate their thoroughness even as I find them, forgotten and largely unacheived, when cleaning out my desk drawers in late November.

This year I decided I’d try fewer goals with less moving parts: challenging, but best of all, easy to remember (and stick to). Then I identified one linchpin goal that in one way or another serves as a catalyst to getting other priorities done.

This year, it’s health: to be specific, being more active. To be even more specific: walking or hiking 2023 miles by the end of 2023. That’s an average of over 5.5 miles every day of the year, come rain, snow, ice or heat, often carrying a weighted pack. Easy. Right?

There’s a method to the madness. Next year (summer, 2024) I’m planning a weeklong backpacking trip to Iceland with friends. The hikes aren’t technical or steep but I do need to be able to lug a heavy pack and food for five days of hiking. Being in good shape means the trip won’t feel like slow torture.

I’m already past the 250 mile mark, on track so far.  A few things are clear already: I feel better when I spend more time outdoors. I’ve observed things when walking streets I never did when traveling those same neighborhoods at car speeds (sometimes not great things, but always interesting).  And I can get to the water’s edge at Portland’s East End beach from my downtown studio in 15 minutes (faster if I push a bit).

With that, it’s time to hit the bricks. What’s your linchpin goal in 20H23?