Photo: FamVeld/Shutterstock

The Days That I Long For

by Matt Raney May 2, 2012
Matt Raney reflects on the man he’s become.

AS A BOY, I spent every waking minute in the forest behind my home. To me, that was what I was called to do; I was made for adventure. I reveled in those summer nights that I could squeeze a few more hours of daylight into my fort building or land exploring. It was my God-given duty to conquer the land behind our home.

I had to raft down the McKenzie River, I had to chase the wild deer in the early morning, and I had to build the biggest tree fort on the highest branch. I cannot tell you how far my heart sunk when I would stumble upon a fence or see another house. Every piece of civilization that I came across was an indicator that my world was getting smaller.

Today, I sit in my corner office in a sprawling business complex in the greater Los Angeles area. I stare out at the trees and pond adjacent to our building. I’ve been contemplating buying an old Willys jeep to take camping in the Sierra Nevadas. Every time I let myself daydream about the adventures I could have in that old Jeep, I have to tell myself, “You’ll never make it out there. You’ve got too much business to do here. You can’t take time off work. You can’t even go a day without your Blackberry.”

The “Man” I’ve become is more worried about climbing the corporate ladder than climbing the tallest tree.

It’s true. The “Man” I’ve become wouldn’t do that. The “Man” I’ve become is more worried about climbing the corporate ladder than climbing the tallest tree. The “Man” I’ve become worries too much to enjoy a break.

This makes me think…

What happened to that boy? What happened to daringness and adventure? When did fashion become more important than function? When did following systems and processes become more important than following trails and blazing new ones?

As a boy, the most important aspect of my wardrobe was how many pockets I had to carry my “stuff” (treasures, tools, snacks) in. You can’t carry a hatchet in a 3-piece suit. You can’t cross a river in Italian leather shoes.

Today I build corporate offices; I expand my client base; I implement sales tools to increase my profits; I read people to distinguish key points to hit during a presentation. This isn’t who I’m meant to be. I have become a shell of a man, I’m grasping at anything that might be worth holding on to.

I want to build fortresses. I want to expand into uncharted territory. I want to implement my own tools of survival. I want to read the land. I don’t want to be clinging tight to the few things in life that I think are worthwhile; I want to open my arms to new things that will enrich my life.

I want to taste the earth’s soil when I bite my fingernails. I want my muscles to ache and burn when I lay down at night. I want my clothes to be stained with dirt, and blood, and sweat. I want to feel accomplishment. I want to seek adventure. I want to know danger.

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