Musings from George

Native Americans and Aborigines
April 8, 2007, 11:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A friend commented via email to me about my proposal to backpack with my kid(s) for a month if they were troubled, and pointed out that aboriginal peoples had been doing exactly that for thousands of years before Outward Bound was created. It occurred to me that Jesus goes for his walk in the wilderness (alone, yes) when he has questions that cannot easily be answered, too. So the concept of vising nature to question life isn’t new (or my own), but is very powerful. Thoreau, Bryson, and others have documented their own search for discovery in nature; Ansel Adams documented primarily natural scenes, but also man’s contributions (a graveyard in New Mexico comes to mind). In a time when success appears to be measured by possessions or wealth, it’s a tantalizing idea to simply move back towards nature (not into it, I’m neither atavistic nor foolish). I have had the luxury in my lifetime to have rafted down the Grand Canyon twice, and both were entirely different experiences because of the people I went with. Small plug here for Mary Petrofsky, with whom I attended high school — she organized my second trip, and so well prepared us that we saw ancient trylobyte impressions well off the river, and sat next to Anasazi ruins near the rim of the cliffs at sunset. She knew where to go, and how to get there, each day. Back to the theme… when in nature, and I do mean without cell phone or email or news or blogs, you really can’t help but listen to both the world around you and your body about you. Creaky knees, running water, sweat soaking through where the backpack rests on your body.

My wife and I drove around the American southwest for four weeks years ago, before kids made that a memory rather than an annual practice. It doesn’t take very long to realize that you are paying a LOT to store a LOT of stuff in a house somewhere, and that you don’t need much to live on. A cutting board and two knives, a thermos and a cooler — supplemented as needed at stores. Camping where feasible, cheap hotels where necessary, restaurants when desireable (Mesa Verde has a great in-park restaurant, for example…).

So if ever I must intervene in my kids’ lives, I believe that I can invent a journey to invite them on that will both excite them and engage them, involve them and enlighten them. Would it matter to them? I don’t know. But I do know it would matter to me.



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