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Bison, Beavers, and Bears OH MY…

I think we have passed more than a couple Boy Scouts of America camping sites on this Wild West RV trip of ours. I know that BSA is going through a lot of issues, and my heart goes out to all the victims of this organization. 

Things come and go: individuals, organizations, companies… We all have a shelf life. And what we choose to do with that time, is complicated by each action’s equal and opposite reaction. Simple right? Sounds stupid, right. Well so simple it seems stupid. But really, think about it… Every time I make a decision between almond milk or dairy milk, there is going to be outcome. I’m lactose intolerant, so the outcome if I drink dairy is an obvious one. Day ruined. 

(On a side note, if you are ever want to RV for the first time… do not go to Yellowstone. It’s definitely like an intermediate/advanced RV trip. Watching my dad navigate the mountain roads, made my stomach feel as though I had just drank a gallon of fresh milk, straight from a cow.)

Nature, on the other hand, doesn’t have a shelf life. We humans wander in, and wander out of this world, leaving behind tracks of who and what we were. So I ask myself, how do I want to be remembered? Up until the past couple years, unwittingly, I was like a California wild fire, destroying everything anything in my path. But now, my path is deliberated and intentional. I’m interested in learning, exploring, being a part of the world, not just another resource guzzling leech on society. While we were out in the “wild,” we came across so many incredible, majestic animals. Bison, elk, bears, and other animals were easy to spot as we cruised by.  Bison have zero f***s to give when it comes to humans. We encountered a few trotting down the street totally unbothered by us. (Another side note, they can run up to 40 miles per hour and weigh up to 2000 pounds. So if you ever see one, try not to stand too close.)

As an apparel designer, I used this as an opportunity to learn and to grow in my newly acquired trade. When I lived in Austin, Texas, I would see all these beautiful cowboy hats and here in Wyoming/Montana (aka home of Brokeback Mountain and Django Unchained) I see them everywhere. Did you know that the most expensive cowboy hats are made out of beaver? And while I definitely knew this at one point in my life, through my renewed curiosity I was able to re-learn a little bit more about how they are made and why some materials are more desirable than others. For example, beaver can weather all different kinds of climates, such as snow and rain. Wool, on the other hand, is not so useful in cold, rainy weather. At first glance, I thought a 100% wool hat was great for a cowboy hat. Nope, I was wrong. Now, don’t worry, I am not going to turn around and start making State of Gratitude hats from beaver. Cause let’s be honest, no one here would spend upwards of $500 on a beaver cowboy hat. Even if it’s for an initiative looking to help addicts into recovery from substance abuse. And a beaver snapback? Forget it! (Unless you are a Kardashian, who I have yet to see. I tried looking for them everywhere in mountains of Cody, but not one was spotting. Truly upsetting, but I’ll live.)

The moment we become unteachable is the moment we stop growing. It becomes the moment when we are not able to think beyond what we already know. I know thru my own experience that stubbornness has afforded me unnecessary heartbreak and stress, that would have been easily resolved if I had only been more teachable in certain moments. 

In the beginning of this initiative, I had no idea what I was doing. Clueless. But the beauty of success is being open to hearing what others have to say. State of Gratitude would not be here if it weren’t for all the advice I have received along the way. From 3 tee shirt styles, to 26 products and countingTees, Hats, Hoodies, and More OH MY!

With Gratitude, 

Christopher Bilyk


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