Step off the Beaten Path
Isn’t it easy to desire safety and security? This desire of safety can keep us limited in what we try and therefore what we can accomplish in life. Being the father of three amazing kids, I found myself in many instances doing everything that I can to keep my kids safe and secure, but what I soon found out through this process of hovering over their lives was that I was doing more harm than good. So my answer? Well, I still provide a foundation of safety and security for my children, understanding their age as well as ability, but we have stepped back to allow our kids an opportunity to both explore their potential as well as their surroundings. When my kids now look at me as they are either climbing a tree or a rock structure and say “help” I evaluate their situation and determine if I believe they are capable of completing it, not in perfect “safety” but in a way that provides the best learning opportunity for them. I have found time and time again that they instinctually figure it out, their body knows what to do, and in all realty they are more than capable.
So the question that may be asked is why? Why take away certain nets in my children’s lives? Well the simple answer is, I desire for them to rely not just on me, but on their instincts. You see the body knows how to climb, and can negotiate difficult terrain with ease. Many of US have just lost the ability to tap into that skill, because we rarely practice it in our daily lives. I believe instinctively we desire both exploration as well as adventure, but lack the skill level and ability to exert ourselves into it in many situations. It is both comfortable as well as convenient to head out to a trail head and stay on the trail, and we often don’t step off the trail in fear of getting lost or hurt.
I believe the more often we step off the beaten path, we open up an amazing opportunity to connect into our instinctual navigation of both direction as well as our body. Now I understand there may be situations or places where it is both for direct safety as well as our responsibility to maintain the surroundings, but there are many times when choosing a different path will provide an amazing adventure for movement and play. Some of my fondest memories as a child is aimlessly roaming through the deep forest in Colorado, or walking along the tundra in Northern Alaska. Seeing every fallen tree as a balance beam and every rock cluster as Mt. Everest. It is so easy to find ourselves crawling along the ground, balancing on a rock or tree, climbing to the top of the tree line and just connect with Earth in such a way that brings both freedom as well as healing to the body and mind.
A few days ago my mother in law showed me a video of her climbing through this small ravine area, through the thick brush and over moss covered logs. I asked her “what she was doing,” and her reply was, “I was exploring and playing.” My wife asked her what she thought about it and her response was “It was fun, it was like being a kid again.” It has been quoted that “we don’t stop moving because we get old, we get old because we stop moving.” I also believe it is the same for having fun, it is important especially in a life that can have so much stress and anxiety, to have an ability to smile and laugh, to touch the earth with your hands, and yes, to get a little dirty in the process!
I hope in the coming days that you will take the opportunity to “Step off the path” just a little and see where it leads you!