I’ve always had a deep love of the mountains and a sense of wonder and awe for the animals that live in them. Mountain environments are harsh and unpredictable. The animals that live in them need to be focused, adaptable and tenacious. Their sole driving force is to survive.
Wild animals live outside enduring the elements day and night wearing nothing but what they were born with. They spend their waking hours searching for food; only drink water; never let their guard down for fear of being eaten; and need to find safe shelter each night.
They sleep in the dirt, a tree, or a meadow; have to fight rivals for mates; and need to protect their offspring from being killed by predators. Their injuries and illnesses go untreated; they never have days off or go on vacation; and they never retire. Wild animals always look forward, take life as it comes and live one day at a time.
Over the past couple of years I went through an event in my life that gave me even deeper compassion and respect for our wild friends.
Most people only read about what I went through happening to others never dreaming it could happen to them. After 25 years of wealth accumulation, I got ill, couldn’t work and eventually lost everything.
One by one, the trappings that define a “successful” life slowly slipped away — a successful business, lucrative career, luxury cars, RV’s, exotic vacations, etc. You name it, I lost it. Not only did all my material security disappear seemly overnight, I also lost all hope and direction.
Fortunately, I have a very supportive wife and two beautiful young boys to give me purpose. I was also fortunate to have equity in my house, and was able to sell it before going up for auction after being in foreclosure for the second time.
I used the equity to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in the mountains and start completely over. With nothing to tie me down, the excuses I always used for not living the life I wanted evaporated.
I fell in love with nature and the mountains at a very young age. Every summer my parents would pack us all up in our avocado green Buick Estate Wagon with fake wood paneling to overflowing and drive through the night to go tent camping in Yosemite Valley.
We always drove at night. When I got older I asked why and was told to avoid the daytime heat in the San Joaquin Valley. After becoming a parent myself, I’m sure the fact that my siblings and I slept the whole way had something to do with it too.
Anyway, after selling our house we put everything in storage and my wife, two boys and I lived in a one bedroom hotel room for two months so our boys could finish the school year. When school ended we packed our 4Runner and a small Uhaul trailer only with necessities and drove 500 miles to Truckee without knowing where we were going to live.
We stayed with friends for two weeks, rented a condo on Donner Lake for a week then moved into a cabin at the west end of Donner Lake for two months while looking for a long term lease.
A week after school started we moved into the house we’re in today. We had to live in the house unfurnished for two weeks until we could make the 1,000 mile round trip to retrieve our belongings. We packed everything into two moving trucks, drove back to Truckee, then unpacked to set up a house half the size of our old one requiring us to put half our stuff back into storage.
My family and I lived like vagabonds moving five times from April to September last year. Our boys went to new schools where they had no friends, we adapted to a completely different climate and way of living, had to learn where to shop, find new doctors, how to get around and how to get things done.
Last April when we sold our house I never would have thought my family and I could endure what we did and be where we’re at today ... happy, healthy and enjoying life again.
We survived the same way wild animals do ... by always looking forward, taking life as it comes and living one day at a time.
We could learn a lot from our wild friends.
Nick De Fiori is a Truckee resident.