Text by Max Barlerin
Skeptic: “So, what is it that you do in Colorado?”
Max: “Well, I really like to climb and ski.”
Skeptic: “No no, I mean what do you do for work?”
The underlying assumption from this type of questioning is that we are defined by the work that we do, and how we spend our free time is only secondary to our role in society. My reaction to this mentality is not one of disownment, the last thing I want to do is throw away my education and the opportunities I have been given throughout my upbringing. But, while we must all play the ‘game of life’ in some way or another, this doesn’t mean that our identity and our best selves have to be associated with this societal norm.
In the world I prefer to live in, we are defined only by purpose we create for ourselves. Our road is passion and our fuel is new places and new experiences. To some, travel and adventure is merely a romantic distraction from the ‘real’ world. To me, it is the real world. Life becomes simple and spontaneous, raw and unadulterated. Routine is rare. Everything is taken in. This sense of freedom, not devoid of hardship, is where I look within and find myself.
You can find identity in anything: music, art, family, culture, sports, whatever. The vehicle is not as important as how it molds us, brings us solace, and takes us to new places in life. Anyone with a passion, a true reason to live, can vouch for the moments that help define us. Those rare instances when time seems to slow down, the clouds separate, the stars align, the material world drops away and all that is left is just you in the moment, carried only by your will and creativity. That is identity, and that is the real self. For me, that feeling comes from climbing and where it takes me. Immersed in the natural splendor of the vertical world, climbing pushes me past my physical and psychological barriers, beyond my imagination and knowledge of what is possible, and ultimately contributes to so much more of who I am than what I do to make ‘a living’.
With another season of work coming to an end, I’m staring at another three months to travel and climb full time. During my last walkabout, I met the truly inspiring, and all-around wonderful Quinn Brett. Having spent weekends and mutual days off chasing this girl around the Great Basin, the Rockies, the Sawtooths, and the Cascades over the last nine months, I finally managed to convince her to come join me on the road. The opportunities are vast, our itinerary is all encompassing, and our destination is not clear until we get there. But that is kind of how we roll.
So here’s to the hard earned time to follow our dreams and do,
Whatever the hell it is we set our minds and our hearts to!
Max and Red Fox Ambassador Quinn Brett will be traveling around the United States January-March, attempting numerous big goals, including free climbing big alpine routes of mixed rock and ice in Patagonia. We’ll be following their progress on the Red Fox blog. Have any questions for Max or Quinn about their lifestyle? Leave them in the comments below or on our Facebook page, and we’ll get you an answer. Quinn will be doing a multi-media show at the Red Fox Store in Lyons, Colo., the first week in April 2015.