A Decade of Adventure

I am not sure, without looking back, if I have talked about my “decade of adventure”. Turning fifty in April, was at the same time the culmination and beginning of something significant. Somewhere along the way in the few months before, I decided that the next ten years were going to offer me experiences that I hadn’t yet had in my first half century.

Last weekend was the first of what I hope to be many new adventures. In part, I am simply trying to keep up with my brave, strong, passionate, loving-life son of fifteen. But more than that, I want to live life, in a way that prevents me getting old. Trust me, my body is fighting me all the way. Aches, pains, stiffness, almost daily small doses of Advil, wine, and massage keep me mobile. But more important than that, age is a state of mind. This past decade has been one mostly filled with indulgence. I invested most of my energy into developing my palate, my mind, my understanding of coffee, flavour, food, that art of imbibing. I figured it was high time for my body to get some much needed attention, which I trust will in turn, reinvigorate my perspective on what it means to grow old, gracefully in wisdom.

Arguably, many would likely question my wisdom, perhaps even my sanity, for venturing up a rock face 250 meters above level ground. Many would question my parenting in regards to not only encouraging dangerous sports with my son, but actually facilitating them. And yet this is what we did. We spent a couple of days with six other men, talking, hiking, labouring, struggling, climbing, sharing, eating, drinking, together, encouraging one another to take one more step, no matter how much it hurt, or how much it seemed like folly.

Obviously I am proud of the fact that I persevered through the difficult approach hike in and out on Saturday, where we traversed thousands of fallen trees while walking eight kilometres and climbing 400 meters in elevation. I wanted to quit so many times. I would look down at my Apple Watch and see my heart rate cresting 170 bpm confirming what I already knew as I could feel my pulse pumping out my ears.

But more importantly, it was a weekend of fellowship. Men, most of whom I did not know at the beginning of the weekend, now friends and fellow sojourners who journeyed with me and my son, along challenging paths in an adventure that we will regale for decades to come (hopefully). It was a weekend where my fifteen year old son got to witness vulnerability among men, a rare thing in our society. It was a weekend where my son was embraced and considered an equal by men 20, 30 even 50 years older than him. It was a weekend where my son sat quietly in the circle around a fire, and listened and then privately told me later that he thought it was cool the way Tim and I were a lot alike and connected so easily. It was a weekend where I was proud to be a dad, of a kid who despite all of my failings as a father, demonstrated how much of a man he is becoming in his own right.

My whole world view is in turmoil right now. But in the midst of that, it is grounding to know that despite it all, I am still just a guy, who needs to be known, and wants to know others. Who delights in the fellowship of sojourners along the way, and who feels humbled at the sight of my progeny living so well at such a tender age.

Given the start of the adventure, I may have been too conservative. Perhaps my decade of adventure will need to extend into the next half-century!

Slaying Giants

This past weekend I embarked upon the first of what hopefully is many new adventures. My son and I, along with six other men spent the weekend mountain climbing around Nordegg and the experience inspired this poem. Thanks Tim for your dedication and skill and willingness to share it with others.

Precariously balanced on a slack line  strung up by doubt on one end and anticipation on the other.

Regaled with the good intentions and adventures of others who have gone before me.

Conversation and the journey distract, momentarily. Then suddenly disembarking from my metal steed, uncertainty jumps up from its hiding place to once again stare me down.

This journey into adventure seems oddly, not to be my own. Is it mere folly? Following blindly the aspiration and enthusiasm of younger legs?

And then we are off, a ragtag band of brothers, sons, strangers, on a quest to conquer rock, iron, fear, and doubt. 

Tangled awkwardly together at first, the ascent begins, slow, deliberate steps silently lay before me, with only the ring of metal snapping to remind me of potential danger.

Then gathering, for a moment, the shackles are removed and with them, the fear and doubt. The journey upward continues, transcendent, silent screams of wonder ring in my ears. 

Perched upon the rock, I now understand the falcon, and it’s domain. A whispered prayer of thanks offered, the rock, freshly anointed with the sweat of my brow, fond thoughts towards those who conquered it before me. 

Above the final crux, I sacrifice the uncertainty and doubt, dawning fresh garments laced together with joy and anticipation. My gaze now directed longingly to the horizon, I catch sight of another giant, it’s dented armour glinting in the light, beckoning, my heart leaps.