Where to start


End one journey and another begins. A stack of papers clutters my desk this morning. Some accumulated in my absence. Others I plopped to the top of the pile in a wad in the process of unpacking after a 10-day Joy Trip.

            If only it was a matter of processing all the stories I collected. I was a fabulous adventure driving across the prairies of Iowa and Nebraska to attend the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride Colorado. I’m also faced with a backlog of projects in process and an obsolete web site that’s doing my career more harm than good.

I feel like I’m standing at the base of steep hill tasked with the chore of pushing a boulder the size of my house to the top. But rather that sit here bitching about it all I can really do is roll up my sleeves, put my shoulder to it and start pushing. Here’s where it begins.

The stack of papers is mostly bills and receipts, plus a speeding ticket and a parking ticket. OK so I’m starting out in the red. But I have to keep in perspective the fact that this is the life I chose. Building a career as a freelance journalist is my ongoing Joy Trip. That means I have to take full responsibility for everything that comes down the road. That includes dropping my speed from 75 to 60 when crossing a state line and checking the expiration time on the pay-to-park receipt on my dashboard.

But rather than wallowing around in all this paper and allowing my mind to become as cluttered as my desk, I have to rise above the petty inconveniences of mere existence and get about the business of my life’s work. It starts here, recoding and filing away these receipts, bills and citations, updating my contacts from newly acquired business cards and transferring notes written on cocktail napkins to editable text in a word document. All of this paper is getting in the way of my writing as and as soon as I get past it the sooner I can bring to you the stories and conversations that chronicle the events of our time.

Coming up…Dayton Duncan discusses his work as a writer in partnership with PBS documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and their new mini-series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Follow along on The Joy Trip Project.


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I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

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