Thursday, April 9, 2015

Everywhere Outside Can Be An Adventure

Perched on a rock overlooking the Rio Grande River in New Mexico.
Do you remember the first time you did something scary?  Something that made you think...maybe I might not live to see the light of the next day?  I bet most of you will say, sure I do and in your mind a picture of driving on the interstate or your first encounter with a bear or rattler on trail will come to mind.  Well, for me the first thing I remember that made me so scared was sitting in a tall tree at about age 10.  As the wind moved the tree back and forth with greater and greater force, I thought, the heck am I going to get down?! 

Oh, how I love to climb up in a tree, up in a tree so high
I did get down from that tree and went on to do other scary stuff.  The standard for my idea of scary, of course, becoming ever greater as I aged.  How large were the effects of that early risk taking behaviors on my willingness to take more and greater risks throughout my life?

Given the freedom, kids will touch anything, once
If given the freedom and opportunity, all children are born explorers.  They do not know what a risk is…..everything is new, bright and shiny!  They are so close to the ground things like ants, grasshoppers, butterflies, tiny tree frogs are easy to inspect if able to be caught.  Following nature to secret places, deep in high grass or up a tree or into a creek turning over rocks, plucking that first snapping crawdad from under rocks, takes daring and courage.  Building upon a solid base of challenges to a child’s courage, walking through small injuries and learning that a burst of adrenaline is a good thing and is not going to kill you is all a part of growing up.  Well it used to be.

In hot pursuit....
In this day and age, parents must balance the possibility of injury vs. the pay off.  A child who is courageous, able to deal with stress and challenges in a positive manner and is curious often runs ahead, literally, of a parent's ability to catch him/her.  If a child doesn’t learn to deal with difficult situations and doesn't discover that they can work out either a good OR a bad solution for themselves, how then as adults will they have a basis for making good decisions? Risk taking and dealing with challenges in increasingly difficult situations builds confidence and teaches a child how to make good decisions. 

I am sitting on the edge of a cliff to take this shot in Santa Fe NF, NM
I can’t say that I make perfect decisions even now as an adult; I tend to go towards the unknown, the challenging, the risky.  Often, I fall on my butt. It usually is a lot of fun though and I learn a great lesson which empowers me to move forward. 

First view of Lake McDonald, West Glacier, MT
I’ve seen a few mountain tops, not as many as I have wanted to but still, I’ve seen them.  Paddled a few streams again not enough.  I’ve listened to animal noises in the dark, alone, on a wilderness trail and slept but haven't done this enough.  For me those early challenges, explorations into the backyard trees, woods and creeks pushed me to explore and to seek what is around the next corner.  I learned early that everywhere and everything outside can be adventure and that HAS made all the difference.

Dang, it's cold!
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

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