Where and what are you doing when time ceases to exist because every cell in your body is vibrating and every neuron in your brain is firing? What awaits you on those days that you leap out of bed ahead of the alarm clock ringing?
I’ve identified a couple of things that have that effect on me and I’ve realized that if I can immerse myself in that which ignites and motivates me then life is 100% richer. I think it feels like a wealthier life, not because of the salary figure attached but because of the internal well that fills and overflows. The challenge, sense of accomplishment and even failure inspire me in the right circumstances.
I think one good measure of knowing whether or not you’re on the right path is how you feel when you fail at something. If I feel demoralized or even apathetic about a poor outcome, chances are pretty clear that I’m on the wrong path. If a failure makes me hungry to try again, do better or use my creativity to envision a different way, I’m travelling well.
Isn’t it interesting that as children we so easily migrate to those things that we are naturally inclined but as adults we tend to choose what we think we should be doing or need to improve upon? Why don’t we embrace and follow our strengths rather than beat ourselves senseless trying to perform the stuff that’s on a grown up version of a report card that we hold ourselves accountable to internally?
It’s important to learn new skills and to try new activities, to push ourselves in fresh directions that might open doors of opportunity, but forcing ourselves into boxes that staunch our growth can’t be helpful or healthful.
It sounds so Oprah to say (because she said it) but… here’s what I know for sure.
I AM… an adventurer, a story teller and a seeker of information in order to more deeply understand the world about me.
I’ve always loved the excitement of an adventure, taking calculated risks and I’m incredibly curious. That said I was never the kid who took the scariest jump off the highest piece of playground equipment but was possibly the second to leap if I could determine with assurance that it wouldn’t kill me. I liked the thrill of scaring myself and feeling just a bit tougher than others who wouldn’t even entertain the thought of tossing themselves from a height, but only if it was on my own terms. If anyone tried to push me into doing something that made me nervous, I shut down. I concluded early on that people bullied and pushed their intent on me only if they were hiding some fact or had an ulterior motive that didn’t have my best interest at heart. There is no satisfaction in fulfilling someone else’s goal, especially if it strips you of your confidence and self-determination in the process.
I loved exploring and rejoicing in the feat of the bravest and most athletic. At times I have berated myself for sitting on the sidelines but the truth is I’m simply not as determined or as reckless in the pursuit of pushing boundaries as some people are. But I’m pretty courageous, question everything and I love to record what those living closer to the edge do – through story telling or photography. I want to be in the thick of things observing the risk takers and change makers so that I can retell the tales of their actions to those who will never be part of that world but who wonder about it.
[An aside: This attribute also makes me an interesting party-goer. I don’t like to drink but rather bartend. The view from my side of the mickey affords me some excellent fodder for teasing in the days following!]
I love being part of a team where excellence is aspired to. Within that team I need a certain amount of freedom and it’s important to me to have a distinct role that contributes to the end result. I hate being told what to do and need to be trusted to do my part well. I take responsibility and deadlines seriously. I will ask for help if I need it but if controlling, commanding and condescension are in your vocabulary and not collaboration, you can do it yourself smarty pants.
I love being able to reflect on a day and know I accomplished something tangible or contributed to the team accomplishing a greater goal. I don’t want to be the centre of attention but I do like the publicity that my work receives.
I love knowing people intensely through situations where we live large and loud and actively and we’ve had to rely on one another to get the best result. I love knowing a few people really well and being comfortable with them having seen me at my worst or my weakest. I don’t doubt that they have my back because they know I have theirs after seeing them at their lowest.
I like a world where judgement is left at the door; communication is clear and mission-based so as not to be taken as a personal attack when a decision is questioned; each person on the team lifts the others up with their words and actions; and everyone is working towards a common goal that has a clear end in sight.
A success then, is something to savour because everyone on the team knows what it took for each member to do their best whether it was through physical or mental courage and prowess. The entire team has a loyalty and respect for one another that runs as hot as the blood in their veins. It’s vital to the result.
The key element in making all of this come alive for me… the mission must be in the wilderness.
There is no greater equalizer than Nature. There is no other force that can so swiftly knock a person to their knees, humble them to the core and then raise them up with gifts of fleeting grace and beauty as Nature.
Working with the elements is about adaptation, not winning or beating an enemy, for Nature is not an adversary. It just is, and the challenge is whether or not (and sometimes how quickly) you can puzzle out how to harness Nature’s power to resolve the issue at hand in a way that mitigates irreversible (versus perceived) damage and destruction and heals the earth while protecting those living nearby. Achieving that delicate balance is a grand experience that will leave the entire team buoyed for weeks afterward and striving to repeat the high through increased excellence.
Fire, flood, electrical storms, blizzards, canoe trips, working with wildlife; these are all areas in which I’ve experienced feeling that I am not just connected to but part of every aspect of the natural world about me. There is no separation between Nature and my body and that which I perceive to be “me.” When I can get in that groove and do it with a team of people who are as equally present; body sweating, muscles pumping, sight sharp, ears tuned in, mind keen and lungs so full of air it feels like you might take flight, that is when I am fired up and closest to being the best of what I have the potential to be.
But the very best part is knowing that I still have room to grow which makes getting out of bed tomorrow as exciting as it was today.