I forget sometimes that I can’t do everything. I just get so swept up in injustice and unfairness that I just forget. But I think I’m remembering what it was like when I was inspired to care about the things I’ve come to value. I’m coming back to the way that I was taught to be passionate.
That medium was the outdoors.
Way back, my father and mother had taken me on a walk through a local state park. Not a hike, no, just a walk on a gravel road that made an outline around the lake. It was evening in the summertime, and we were on our way back to the car when a snake had moved across the path ahead of us.
My dad rushed us forward, “Let’s see if we can get it!”
What did he just say? I thought to myself.
When we came to the spot where the snake disappeared into the grass, I was not going to step one foot past the road and into the tall grass. Not one foot, and I was clear about that. I was scared of snakes, maybe I didn’t know why but in the end I was afraid of something for the fact that I didn’t know it. I didn’t understand what it was. My dad, being the dad of course, hoisted me on his back and we wandered into the field following the snake on his slow wiggle through the grass.
It wasn’t attacking us. It didn’t even acknowledge us and yet I remember most my father’s warmth and the setting sun and the seductive way the snake turned through clumps of grass, not the fear of this little reptile.
I was afraid of everything as a young kid, absolutely everything. My family still teases me about a Winnie the Pooh episode that had frightened me. But for once I wasn’t afraid, instead I wanted to continue following it. I wanted to continue learning about it and watching it, drinking in the fearlessness of sauntering with one of nature’s creatures.
Years pass and I was dead-set on becoming a herpetologist. My middle school 8th grade teacher gave me “class zoologist” as my graduation award.
But even though that experience changed me, I realized recently that I want to protect nature in the same way that I grew to respect it.
And that is by showing others the beauty and magic in the world.
What’s out there is stuff that we do not understand. I can say with certainty that many people who say they like fishing truly don’t grasp what that is and the best way to go about doing it. Doing something and having done it is different from being a part of it. Action is different from understanding.
I my case it could be as simple as showing people that snakes are not slimy, but muscular and even emotional. When they’re pissed, they let you know; if they’re calm you don’t even have to hold them but allow them to curl around your wrist. You can feel them tensing and relaxing with each breath.
There’s a whole new way to experience the world out there and it’s right at our fingertips if only we are taught how or show by someone the best way to experience it.
My goal is that I am going to be the same person to others as my parents were to me, the people that allowed me to get outside and learn respect for the world around me.
I am an outdoorsman and I live TheOutLife.
Funny how these things work out sometimes.