2017 – A Balancing Act in Progress

It is now exactly 1 year and 22 days since me and Anne overstuffed a van and drove from Helsinki to Oslo. It was new years eve, the van contained everything we own and a bunch of self-confidence that things would work out somehow. Since that day it seems change has happened at the speed of light. I have gone from working full time as a guide and instructor to having a nine to five job as a chemist. So, I thought it would be good to stop and reflect for a second; exactly what happened and what role have mountains played in all of it?

From Guide…

The original idea was to move closer to the mountains, so we could enjoy our mountain hobbies in the weekends, despite having “normal” jobs during the week. Of course, neither of us had anything resembling a normal job at that time, but I could work as a guide and instructor, while Anne finished her Ph.D.

I worked most of the winter in climbing gyms and most of the summer in the mountains. In many ways it was a dream come true; climbing was a bigger part of my life than ever before and I made a living out of it. And I have an abundance of invaluable experiences and fond memories to show for it.

But at the same time I realized that I didn’t spend that much time climbing in my own time. This was probably due to two main reasons: 1) With the uncertainty of being self-employed and a salary-level somewhat short from doctors and lawyers, I had to work a lot and didn’t have that many days off. 2) Once I did have a couple of days off, I was pretty knackered and the idea of laying on the couch, completely dry, with a well brewed cappuccino close at hand, was often quite tempting.

…To Chemist

Combine the above, with the fact that I’ve always wanted to change the world and enjoyed intellectual challenges – not to mention that I spent a decent amount of time obtaining a master’s degree in chemistry – it seemed like a good idea to apply for various research jobs. In the fall I was lucky enough to get a 10 month offer as a research scientist at Borregaard (a biorefinary), which I accepted with open arms.

In many ways it was another dream come true; I get to solve problems that include chemical, financial and sustainability dimensions for a company that I believe has the potential to make the world a tiny bit better (by providing various industry chemicals sourced from wood instead of oil). It’s basically the kind of job, I could see myself doing for the long haul.

I’ve even had a dramatic increase in motivation to head into the mountains in the weekends, just like I envisioned 1 year and 22 days ago. However, the job is physically located in Sarpsborg, a 1 h and 15 min drive from where we live and in the opposite direction from the mountains. Needles to say, this creates a logistical hassle and a not-so-insignificant expense (from commuting and renting a room in Sarpsborg). And so the everlasting bugbears of modern life – time & money – raise their ugly heads again.

Beautiful Uncertainty

So, where does that leave the delicate balancing act between saving the world & making a difference, having time & money and spending stress-free time in the mountains, now in 2018?

It seems to me the perfect balance is a) never perfect and b) constantly changing. Maybe it sounds a bit pessimistic, but I actually think it’s a good thing; I like change and I think it’s driven by imperfection. In other words, I dread the day when I’d feel content with everything. Where would my hopes, dreams and motivations then come from?

As for where everything is heading in 2018, it remains to be seen. But I count myself extremely lucky to be here in Oslo with Anne, having just as much (if not more!) hopes & dreams – and a bunch of various uncertain outcomes to look foreword to – as I had last year. In the end, having that positive drive in the face of uncertainty is really what adventure/life is all about.

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