Those three words usually bring a derisive attitude from anyone that lives on the east or "left" coast. "How mundane, how backward, how crude"! In other words, to us in the hinterland, how exhilarating!
I watched a PBS special last night about the birth of our national parks. It was produced by the same guy that did "The Civil War" (Ken Burns), arguably the best documentary that has ever been produced. What it talked about was the Theodore Roosevelt years, in part. Primarily, it talked about Teddy's passion with the great "outdoors". The special left me spell-bound and ready to take a hike into the wilderness with my son and anyone else that want to brave the elements.
In a word, I can describe an overnight hike in the Grand Tetons as "experiential". That was something I did back in 1979. I took my then girl-friend to go hiking up Death Canyon in the Grand Tetons. I had planned the trip for weeks and thought I had covered all the bases in my preparation. What I hadn't anticipated was her unwillingness to break-in her hiking boots. It made the trek a little agonizing for her (to say the very least) and it curtailed my plans for multiple nights out. What it didn't do was take away from the memory of the experience. The question is: Why?
Now, to provide a little background, I remember going hunting and fishing with my father before he died. Those memories have never left me, even though he died when I was only 16. We never hunted for more than rabbit and our fishing trips always revolved around bluegills and perch, but that hasn't seemed to affect my memories of those trips. The main memory is of being with my father in an environment of "us against nature", something that I yearn for with my son and hope to fulfill.
In reading Sarah Palin's book "Going Rogue", I was immediately transported back to those times with my father. My absolute favorite part of the book was in her describing the trips with her father into the "us against nature" environment. Perhaps that is why I am so intrigued with her. Her experiences with nature and her ability to recount it as a positive life's experience are telling to me. It is something we are inspired to provide to our own sons and daughters.
I have no doubt that Sarah Palin has already captured her children's hearts with multiple trips into the "us against nature" environment. I envy her ability to do that in Alaska. Perhaps I should have forgone my experience in the city, pursuing a career in accounting. Perhaps I would have been better-served to take up the life of an Alaskan and learned the ins and outs of life in the wilderness.
But alas, I'm an accountant living in Texas, far removed from the memories of my Indiana past. And Alaska is out of the question now, having to steer a teenage youngster toward a fulfilling future.
I can only hope that the future contains some huntin', fishin' and campin'. That may be the thing that connects my son to me forever, as it did with me and my father.
Cross-posted at The Rogues' Roost