Monday, June 15, 2009

If all else fails, read directions

"If all else fails, read directions." That's what my Dad taught me. Even a very commonplace outing could be an adventure with my Dad. I remember being in "Indian Guides," which was sort of like "Cub Scouts," but with less rules and more cool Indian type things (never had to say the pledge of allegiance and pretend like our country was on the same level as God). Well, when Dad and I were in "Indian Guides," we went for an overnight stay at Camp Montvale, and all of the other dads were on the sidelines, but my Dad was right in the middle of the action. One boy could outrun everyone else, and I remember that his name was Miles. And, Dad got in there and raced him, and Dad was about to fall on him and caught himself (I think he hurt his wrist, but he was all smiles). And, all the kids loved it!!

It was funny at any kind of parent-kid event with Dad, because not only did he not do things in accordance with the rules, but he was constitutionally incapable! And, at times, it made me uncomfortable as a kid. My Dad was who he was, and he was going to be who he was, and it didn't f-ing matter whether the Pope was in charge or the President! Truth was, Dad was in charge by virtue of the freedom he felt to live life fully. He was free and in charge wherever he was.

I remember a short hike, turned into a wandering through the woods a little lost, but really enjoying it all. Or, if our family took our boat out on the Gulf of Mexico, we didn't get a guide. No, we hit sandbars and waited for the tide, but we also saw things like huge sharks that nobody else saw. And, at times, it even could be a little dangerous like the time Mom and Dad were on their way back down Crystal River when it was storming, lightning and a foot of water was in the boat.

No, Dad wanted to go find out what was out there. He trusted this creation. He loved it. He wasn't afraid of it. Dad always taught me to never fear the wilderness or animals in the wilderness. He told me that the only real evil in this world was human beings. Of course, Dad loved people, but he had to tell the truth. That is the only real evil thing in creation. Human beings. Why?

Well, back to turning the commonplace into the adventurous - well, that was my Dad. When other kids Dads were trying to avoid them on snowdays, my Dad was out there on the hill whipping down on a sled like there was no tommorrow. When other kids Dads were criticizing them for being different from others, my Dad waited to see who I would really turn out to be. Dad was about adventure. You couldn't make him fit in. He didn't try to make me fit in. It's a real blessing when those who love you can celebrate that you don't fit in.

"When all else fails, read directions." Dad's real directions to me in life were: "see if you can figure it out with your heart and mind; I bet you can." That's the "all else" part. "All else" rarely failed for Dad.