Finding joy in the outdoors since 1988
Often times we search for answers, but in my opinion we really search for validation. Questions about what we can handle. Can I do it? That's the beauty of surviving adventure. I want to know that I can pull through a challenge where victory isn't certain; where survival isn't certain. I yearn to be tested, as a man I need that test. Today we lack the ritual of that test; it's just not built-in to our upbringing like it used to be. Think about it, defending yourself against the bully, making the cut on the high school sports team, earning the A in that tough class with the hardest teacher. In times of the past it used to be a familiar avenue to serve in the armed forces (Navy, Army, Coast Guard, etc..) before searching for a career.
Do we have anything that puts us to the test and let's us know if were good enough to make the cut of independence outside our parents home?
I've heard the average age most kids move out of the nest now is age 26! Now sure times are hard with the economy and jobs aren't as plentiful, but do we help ourselves? Can we honestly say that we try every avenue to be the best us we can be? I thought I was an exception to the rite of passage, like I knew who I was and what I was capable of. I went to college, listened pretty well in school, played all the sports I could, didn't get in too much trouble growing up so everything should work out great right?
No, Its not; I didn't earn it yet.
There is one phase in my life that I have used as my assessment of readiness, it won't be the same for you, but the feeling that your activity stirs up within your heart WILL BE the same.
The college football stage.
I played small time division 3 college football. You must love football to play at that level.
There is no fame.
Not extras except; the chance to play another competitive down of the game.
I had times that I wanted to quit. Times where I was alone. Times when my body felt as if it were broken. Times when I dreaded hearing the 5:00 alarm. Time when coaches literally scolded me like a puppy. One thing remained at my center throughout the process, I couldn't give up. I decided that I am willing to die in order to conquer this phase. Many were not. We started with 120 freshman, in days there just 40 left, by the time of our graduation only 7 survived to become seniors.
I think that number says a lot.
It says that 5.8% of young men were ready to die for something they love. 5.8% have completed the quest.
To me this sounds very in-line with what a rite of passage process should mathematically equate to. Not everyone is ready. The true adventure and hero that wins or merely survives it won't be the majority, far from it.
I thank God for my days of college football. How would I handle the many situations I've had to endure and figure out as an adult? Video games haven't taught me that? I haven't learned it from watching youtube videos. I wasn't taught that in high school, my parents didn't teach me that. They may have talked about it and mentioned it even but they can't teach you that because you must live that. This lesson isn't a segment of parental lessons covered by a modern parenting psychologists, it's a time of trial where no one can tell you the answer, your confidence is solely created by you and the obstacle can't be modified to fit your comfort.
Now days I coach football. It's bittersweet to see the adventure and trials the young men I'm proud of today endure without my ability to truly join them. My role now is to mentor these young men and allow them to find the answers they need to; the most important question they will ask of themselves as men?
Do I have the heart to overcome?
Old Parable that I would like to re-hash, it goes like this:
"There was an old man and a young boy, one day the young boy asked the old man,
' what makes people good and what makes people bad?'
The old man replied,
'Inside everyone there are two wolves, a good wolf and a bad wolf.
The bad wolf represents things like jealousy, greed, selfishness, hatred etc.
The good wolf represents things like selfless, caring, love, friendship, integrity etc.'
The young boy looked up and was confused. He asked the old man,
'Well then, which one wins?'
The old man rich in wisdom said, 'The one you feed'."
Parables are great ways to get the point across. I love to listen to parables based on wisdom, you know that stuff you accrue over the years that gets you from point A to point B in life. I think many of us have this deep regard for what wisdom can bring us and how it has shaped our unique life. The parable above is a really cool one because it has the mythical historic feel to it so it commands your attention but leaves with an almost cliff hanger question in mind: Which one do I feed?
There is a great podcast that I like to listen to now and again that basically revolves around the message of this parable and each episode they have new guest try to answer this question. I am no celebrity, I am probably not successful in the eyes of the majority but I don't feel ashamed in the wolf I chose.
Think for a minute about integrity. Think hard about it, go ahead and google it if you need to. It means that no matter what circumstances your facing or no matter what your environment contains your choices will always align with what you personally feel is right. Your morals remain intact no matter what your peers are doing, no matter what your spouse thinks is best, no matter if it presents a financial benefit to yourself. If you have integrity your not selling out your morals for some material cash, you have what you need and you make choices right (This is no typo <-- You make choices Right). You know to do what is right because it is what is right, there is no bonus, no points, no sticker, no pat on the back, you do what's right even when it gets you punched in the face. Thats feeding your good wolf.
Take Ben Franklin's observation (by the way this was a long time ago, I believe this happens more so than ever today)
"Some people die when they are 25 but are not buried until 75."
Or take William Wallace's version:
"All men die; few men ever really live."
When I first heard the wolf parable I truly believe it was a Godsend. Due to various circumstances which I like everyone else have faced, I started to lose that hope and started to think more along the lines of:
That last one always gets me. I was doing things like watching T.V., telling my son to "go play", finding it too much of a hassle to call up my friends because I was "busy". Whose running my life? Why am I wasting time? Why am I not actively pursuing happiness? I need to start feeding my good wolf, he's getting hungry.
Robbie is the creator of WF and loves to spend time in the outdoors chasing steelhead, upland birds, and the beauty of nature.