On the hunt for a different adventure this summer, I signed myself and my two girls up for an Insect Walk at a local nature preserve. On this particularly dreary Saturday morning, we pulled into a mostly empty parking lot, where the only other cars there were a small sedan and my friend’s minivan. As we were pulling up, my friend and her three children were approaching the entrance of the preserve.
Few families braved an outing today, because the forecast was predicted to be unfavorable. However, the past week of a similar forecast left us willing to venture out in hopes to spend a few minutes amongst the trees. We were ten minutes late to arrive and rushing to catch up with the group on the walk, but all we found after crossing the quaint wooden bridge from the welcome center was a lonesome guide studying a plant along the trail’s edge.
She smiled at the pitter patter of feet coming towards her, accompanied by squeals of excitement that matched the rhythm of the pitter patter. When we told her we wanted to participate in the insect walk, she beamed with genuine enthusiasm as she said, “Wonderful! I thought that no one was going to show up because of the weather, but it is a perfect morning to hunt for insects!”
The overcast sky shielded us from the intensity of the summer heat, as well as the crowds that accompany typically sunny days. We were getting acquainted with the guide while we meandered around the parklands when she mentioned that she had a 9 year old son. I continued the conversation by asking if he is who has fueled her love of insects. She responded with, “it was actually the other way around”. She went on to say that she grew up in an urban environment and though she was drawn to nature and wildlife, she didn’t have access to much of it. What she did have access to explore was a small backyard and nearby shrubs-and that is how she got interested in bugs.
There is a lesson to learn from her tenacity. Sometimes in life – as it was with our guide who was a child stuck in a city, but had a passion for wild – your surroundings cannot be controlled. As a military spouse, this is usually my experience, as well. There is a choice to be made: stay on the path that you know will lead to someone else’s destination, or take the risk to forge a path off the main trail that will lead you to yours.
There is a popular quote that says “the only difference between an adventure and an ordeal is an attitude,” which accurately depicts the predicament of our tour guide and so many other in a similar situation. Instead of being discouraged by her environment, our guide embraced it with an attitude of inquisition. She discovered her future where others would have mentally constructed a dead end sign. With a change in perspective, our guide became privy to a new ecosystem that fueled her love for life outdoors and ultimately lead her to a life of attainment. Rather than walking past that seemingly insignificant shrub that she brushed up against every day on the way to school, she intentionally chose to explore it. She discovered her life in an unconventional, but intentional way.
Her story resonated with me. If I am not vigilant about pursuing my interests and purpose in life, with each move across country or each situation that lacks autonomy, I will unknowingly sacrifice a piece of myself. One day, I will wake up and realize there is little left of who I genuinely am. I dare say this could happen to you as well. Connecting to your environment will help you connect to your body and soul, which will reveal its purpose over time. Just like the bugs in the backyard of a little girl, our purpose is hidden deep within, waiting to be unearthed. Dig deep, for if we do not know who we are, how can we find and fulfill our purpose on this earth?
Make an effort, where ever you are, to pursue what excites you! You may have to get a little creative with your curiosity, but the exploration will be worth it…it may just lead you to your future!
Ask yourself these questions today and contemplate the answer as your spend time connecting to your surroundings:
1. What shifts can you make in your attitude today to transition a situation in your life from an ordeal to an adventure?
2. Is there an area in your life that you can forge a new trail in the overgrown, untamed grass that will lead you back to a passion that you neglected long ago because you felt limited by your surroundings?
3. Can you shift your perspective to find what you thought you lost a long time ago?