Finding Our Strengths

Social media makes it increasingly easy to watch people live their lives whether or not that person is a close friend or complete stranger. I could easily find people who live on the other side of the globe and proceed to see the things they do and the places they go. YouTube chronicles the lives of millionaires, risk takers, and celebrities helped along by easy to use, easy to carry cameras that can turn just about anyone into an actor. The list of ways I can viscerally escape my own life is endless and many young people are sucked into doing so.

Therein lies a problem. If I spend large amounts of time watching other people live their lives, then in what way am I living mine?

The only way that we can stumble upon lasting memories and the hobbies that carry into our future is by going out and finding them. It is my belief that we are born with inherent strengths and weaknesses that reveal themselves as we test them. It is true that practice makes perfect but some things we find will come to us more naturally than most. Like a renowned artist with no formal schooling or a singer with a voice of liquid gold that was never professionally coached. The majority of people will look at them and believe that they are just a fluke, just 1 in a million.

I do not doubt that there are things out there for each one of us that may change our life or give us a newfound strength we never knew that we even possessed. Along with testing our boundaries come weaknesses in areas we never knew we lacked. These discoveries lead us to discover more about who we are and may point us to our place in the world. See, adventure isn’t about trekking through faraway lands or being rich and famous, for some it is, but most of the time the best adventures let us meet new people, learn new things, and make memories.

In my reading, I often stumble across the old adage, “Nobody lies on their deathbed wishing they’d spent more time at the office.” I think this phrase can be reworked in another way to say,” Nobody lies on their deathbed wishing they’d spent more time watching T.V.” Nobody will. With both styles of the phrase the message is to live fully and make memories. Make the kind of memories that you can tell people. Whether they are friends or family if you can make them cry, smile, and laugh then that memory is one well made.

I’m young but I’ve lived enough to see myself get caught in the same traps. Evenings on youtube and Netflix squandered away into meaningless hours extending into days. I’ve watched my friends eyes glaze over as the video games they play flash and warble to numb the senses. At the end of the day there will be nothing to show for it. It was simply wasted. A person is not any better off than when they started.

This is not to say that we must cut adverse distractions from our lives completely. Don’t delete your social media accounts or cancel your Netflix subscription. Instead spend less time on them and delegate more to going out and forging new ground.

Adventure can be as simple as treading ground that your own feet and mind have never walked.

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Trouble Walking

We need both legs to walk. It’s a simple concept to grasp and simpler still to experience why this is true.

Recently, I severed my ACL while practicing martial arts, and now it is all I can do to safely shuffle around to the places that I enjoy. It made me wonder how difficult it must be for those that are permanently injured to get around. It certainly made my injury pale in comparison.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a disability. That means that 19 percent of the world’s population have conditions that affect their way of living.

A disability is categorized as any physical or mental condition that negatively impacts a person’s life and can range anywhere from hard-of-hearing to bodily paralysis.

I have the luxury of biding time until I heal but there are many people who will forever live with the somber cards they’ve been dealt.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I immediately imagined and cringed at the thought that the wild places and beautiful fishing holes would no longer be within reach. As it stands, I can barely hobble to the water’s edge. If I was wheelchair bound, many of my favorite spots would become inaccessible.

My point is this: wild areas within the beauty of nature should be accessible by all people who have the desire to experience them. Mother Nature’s healing qualities should be within reach for all people.

I believe that the U.S. should make it a bigger priority to make its national parks more accessible and accommodating to the disabled. Now, this is not to say that many are not already but to call out to the parks that don’t have resources for those who may need them. The solution is not to pave whole tracks of untouched land but to make the already existing and least intrusive of paths easier to navigate.

On a recent trip to Sand dunes National park, it was impressive to see the special “sand wheelchairs” that made sand and gravel travel easier to undertake for wheelchair bound visitors. All parks should have the funding and hospitality to be able to provide these types of items.

If people took more of an interest in others lives, then the notion of equality we speak of would be easier to follow. I, myself, am disappointed that it took surgery to realize this, that I had to be disabled to have empathy enough for those that may be worse off than I am.