Finding Work/life Balance as a Consultant Living in Lake Tahoe

Do you love where you live? Does it amaze you and keep you curious and engaged?

The Tibetans say the secret to happiness is building up all three legs of the Tripod of Happiness. The Tripod of Happiness is about having something to do, someone to love, and somewhere to be. I think a lot of people don’t truly satisfy the third leg of this tripod.

I program all day, thus I stay very connected to the latest happenings in the technology world. Yet I also immerse myself in the mountains of Tahoe on a daily basis and it does wonders for my clarity of thought and overall well being.

I think this dichotomy makes me a better programmer. Nearly every day I brainstorm various problems while I’m out walking on the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake, for example. The clean air and perfect Tahoe temperature does wonders for your mind. It’s no surprise that people like Bertrand Russell and John Steinbeck spent time out in this area. John Steinbeck wrote his first novel while staying on as a caretaker for a cabin at Cascade Lake, the lake right next to Fallen Leaf.

I sometimes hike this little trail in the late afternoon to Fallen Leaf Lake: fallen leaf

I also have a great secret spot which I call the Lair of the Bear. It’s out near Baldwin Beach but it isn’t a designated trail. I duck some barbed wire and hike through the woods to a beautiful meadow. I quite often run into a family of bears out there so I generally find myself exceptionally focused while walking. From what I hear, it’s not a good idea to surprise a mamma bear with her cubs. As long as you keep your distance they are totally fine with humans, though.

This is one of those few hikes in which you can’t brainstorm a programming problem because you have to be completely in the moment to keep an eye out for the bears (so I can spot them before my dog does. I don’t want him to charge them and get into hot water). This kind of in-the-moment/on-edge thinking also seems to be healthy for the human mind. I feel charged and energized after walking out there. I think it is a similar phenomenon to what rock climbers experience. Rock climbers talk about getting a high from having to put their entire mind into the present tense and focus on the next handhold.

Below is a pic of the meadow in the Lair of the Bear. There is a slow-moving river and pond nearby. I often lay down and relax in the grasses while my dog entertains himself by hunting for frogs. Lair of the Bear

Don’t get me wrong, there are things which I definitely miss out on by living in Tahoe. I love the Bay Area tech scene, for example. The closest Ruby group to me is in Reno (1.5 hours). It’s a great group but they only meet once a month. It would also be nice to grab beers with other developers more frequently. Networking with startups and other developers is almost nonexistent in Tahoe. I wonder if the perfect solution is spending half the week in the Bay Area and the other half in Tahoe? I guess I just need to find a way to have a house in both locations (still working on that).

So, the question is, do you have all three legs of the tripod in your life? Do you love where you live? I’d be curious to hear from other people who have a good balance between the natural world and our high tech one.

The pic below is a beach within walking distance from my house and I quite often go there for lunch. Pretty nice lunch spot, eh? Tahoe Beach

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