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High-Desert Adventure

There are moments in one's life that definitively check a box, marking a major achievement or developmental milestone. You know in these iconic moments that you are history aware of itself, and that someday you'll look back and think, "Wow, I really did a thing there, and thankfully had the wherewithal to make sure I was fully present for it." If these moments are snapshots, then my recent move to Yucca Valley might be more appropriately likened to a home movie. (Is that still a thing by the way, "home movies", or do we just call it all content now?) Anyway, after 10 years of living in San Diego, CA, our little family has moved to the high desert. I'm here now, sitting at a rustic wooden dining table in this new house of mine, typing in a state of mild disbelief. Every detail of this new environment is jumping into my eyes with profound clarity. My copper drinking cup. A hand-carved decorative wooden bowl. A telescope. Our new wood-burning stove. I feel like I'm having a lucid dream, and it all looks so real. The backyard. It's desert. Like literally sand. There are freaking Joshua Trees on my property. Despite the countless number of times I've ridden here on my motorcycle from San Diego over the past decade, it still would never have occurred to me that my love for this place would manifest like this. Again, there are freaking Joshua Trees on my property. In fact, the entire phenomenon that is Joshua Tree National Park -- the one Bono (of U2 infamy) named a critically popular album after -- is essentially my front yard. It's unreal. Also, this is the first house I've ever owned. If you know anything about me, then you know my backstory is a bit of a hero's journey. It's one of those triumphant "against all odds" tales that people find inspirational. I've been told my whole life that I should write a book. Maybe someday. But until then, the TLDR is that I come from nothing. Less than nothing. I was dealt a crappy hand. There were many times along the way that I simply resigned myself to a life of misery, abuse, and destitution. I accepted that for whatever reason, fate had not smiled upon me, and I took my lick like a man. Yet here I am at 52-years-old. I should be dead. But instead, impossibly, I've just purchased a house in the desert. The last time I lived in the desert was in the early 80's. I lived in Vegas with my Italian father, which is a story for another time (cue mandolins). Suffice it to say, I was a troubled teen from Philly who absolutely fell in love with the desert. It was a place of solitude and inner healing for me then, even as it is now. Maybe it's in my in blood..... my mother is Jewish, and traces my roots back to the Levant. Or maybe it's just a me thing. I mean, I've been living in San Diego for 10 years, yet I've spent way less time in the ocean than I have doing solo rides through some very biblical looking scenery (in jeans and full leather gear) on some of the hottest days of the year. Who knows why we are the way we are, and why we like what we like, but I like the desert..... and god dammit if I didn't just watch this dream materialize right before my eyes. I appreciate that my family is on board. My partner Celia hails from pioneer stock, so for her this leg of our journey checks a box as well. My son is a complicated little 13-year-old (he's autistic and has dwarfism), so I was worried about how he'd handle the transition. To my delight, he loves it. Our dog Hannah immediately took ownership of the property, and has been getting the full run of the yard -- arguably the size of the dog park I used to take her to -- panting happily and clearly loving her new domain. The cats..... well.... the cats suck, and I keep asking myself why the fuck we have cats. They're such a liability. But fine, whatever.... Gracey and Blue like it here too. But I guess what I'm getting at here, and my main reason for writing, is that I'm experiencing the actualization of a fantasy in real time. Since my job is to motivate guys to quit making excuses and start making moves toward fulfilling their dreams -- whatever those dreams might be -- it's awesome and frankly quite humbling to be able to report that yours truly, Dennis the Man-UP! Life Coaching guy, is walking his own talk. And not just walking it, but hiking it.... complete with wide-brimmed hat, compass, and rucksack full of water. The picture attached to this post? Literally the land in front of my house. I understand that nothing gold can stay. It's just a house. It's just stuff. Bodies age. We all die. I'm not a materialist, and never have been. But in the home movie of my life -- the one that started off so rough, and seemed to be building toward an inevitably tragic finale -- I'm happy to say that for one brief moment, I recognize that I'm here (like right here) in a good place. I did this. Or maybe better to say that this has happened, and I'm lucky enough to be here as a witness, with the wherewithal to make sure I'm fully present for it.


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