By: Sonja Bjornsen
Founder of allez outdoor
As we tromped along the ridge overlooking Rocky Mountain National Park, like clockwork the afternoon rain started to fall, slowly at first, and then with a bit more conviction. I don't remember the last time I simply hiked in the rain with no real objective. But Kelly and I had started a short hike with Pup Face McGee, and as each drop tapped me on the head my heart sang at the sensation.
I watched as Pup Face enjoyed every smell, chased real and imaginary critters alike, and found endless things to chew. As we walked, our conversation turned to the idea of perfection. In a culture that seems to increasingly cancel-out any good if any shortcomings also exist, it’s difficult to decide if it is worth doing anything at all. Trouble is, if you are just starting at anything in life, you're going to fail, you're going to fall, and there are going to be mistakes. Does that render as folly the greater objective of trying to do something better?
There was a recent BBC segment where two sisters in Venice, Italy, became the first women to build, own, and run a gondola operation (the rowboats used for transport in the Venetian waterways) – they took over the family business after their father died.
Before he passed, he always told them that all you need is "soramanego", or know-how, and you need to love what you do." Could there be better guiding principles for anything in life? When asked if they were afraid to fail they said, "We have to do our best, and afterward people will say yes or no, but the important thing is to do our best, after that I don't care about what they say." Try hard, let the raindrops fall. Living, trying, adapting, being just a little bit better, these are the ingredients to making something great one day. I found these sisters in Venice to be so inspiring, and really want to hold on to their idea of soramanego, and a little bit of not giving a fuck, as I launch into the world of starting my own business, surely tripping along the way, but walking the path where my passion lies, and where the only compromises I make are the ones that I agree to.
In my personal life I dream about never using plastic, being vegan, sending all my projects, getting up at 5 a.m. to run before work, never feeling the need to wear makeup, not caring about getting older – it's what's inside that counts – and being there for my family and friends at the end of it all. Can't imagine why I always fall short? Yet every time I make it out the door for even a short run, or order responsibly on a menu, walk instead of drive, or bring pizza to my sister's, it feels like a small victory. If I focused on being perfect, like a crash diet I would be scarfing down jelly beans and donuts in my car in less than two weeks. Slowly, over time, with effort, habits change and improve.
Like those sisters in Venice, or even our little puppy taking in the world (and sticks, and critters, and cheese), maybe we all need a little more soramanego and a little less fear. There is beauty in following your heart.
In conversations with others, and a cautionary tale I tell myself, I recognize how complacency and comfort can become a belief that small changes won't accomplish anything or aren't worth the effort. But bit by bit, by focusing on the things that matter, the people that matter, and doing our best, we will hopefully end up someplace better than where we started. It’s what I hope to do in my personal life as well as with allez outdoor.
Photo: logo progression, fails, and some of the iterations to get to the final version.