Our youngest, Mary, abhors hiking. When faced with an outdoor dirt covered trail of any kind, my able-bodied daughter starts to wilt, and her legs mysteriously go weak – too weak to will themselves forward one step at a time. It’s become an inconvenient aversion for her father and me, who love to hike and want to hike as a family. In the past we’ve tried explaining logically to her that she is, in fact, quite capable of completing a short trek through the woods, there being zero physical limitations to hinder her from accomplishing such a modest physical undertaking. This commonsense line of reasoning has traditionally been met with much weepy naysaying and the gnashing of baby teeth.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, while at my in-laws, the weather was cool but crisp and sunny. After stuffing our bellies with generous helpings of pumpkin, pecan, blueberry, and apple pie we were feeling antsy to get out there in it and reinvigorate our sluggish bodies with a h-i-k-e along one of the picturesque trails nearby. But how….how could we possibly pull that off and sidestep all the whining and necessary pep talking that usually dampen our nature walk experiences? We had to put our heads together – had to think outside the box and come up with a strategy that could
trick help Mary into developing a different, more positive perspective. Any mom will tell you, it’s all in the delivery! How you spin it can make or break the implementation of a great new plan.
“Alright, everyone!” we announced to our children and nieces and nephews after brainstorming up a fresh approach to an ongoing dilemma. “Get your hats and coats on! We are departing in fifteen minutes for an owl hunt before dinner!”
Notice that “Owl Hunt” does not contain the word “hike” in it, or “walk,” “trek,” “stroll,” “slog”, “tramp”…you get the picture. An “Owl Hunt” implies not a pointless, destination-less, calorie burning excursion through bare branched trees, but an adventure! Mary likes owls, and much to our relief she found it not all that appalling to, in the good company of her beloved cousins, keep her eyes peeled for signs of life while putting one foot in front of the other. There was purpose in that, and even a bit of wonder. One can’t help but be touched by wonder when deliberately paying attention to the beauty that is, but so often ignored.
“True life is lived when tiny changes occur,” wrote Leo Tolstoy. It’s the small minute to minute decisions to either see or stay blind, listen or remain deaf, go forward or waste our days in idleness, that bless or curse our existence on earth with either hope, redemption, love and peace or despair.
Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible.
- Leo Tolstoy