blog contributor: Tyler Fish
Let me tell you about your Outward Bound Course. The one you just finished. The good one. It’s good because you’re burning inside, full of ideas, feelings, memories, motivation, confidence, a future…more. You don’t know these details. You just know you’re burning.
There’s nothing like that moment of satisfaction, knowing that you’ve been at the right place with the best people at no better time. You’ve seen the signs. One happening points to the next – like a connect the dots, more than coincidence marking the road well chosen and continually well-traveled. Just when it couldn’t get better, it does. And at the same time it all seems so normal, because this is where you are. There is nowhere else. How could there be. You can’t imagine your life without this.
Now you’re going home. No better place to go, because what else could happen? You are full. Nothing more can be shoved inside. So you sit. In your plane, on your bus, waiting for your ride. Whatever. I hope you anticipate that no one will understand what you’ve done, because they won’t. As if that were possible. Oh, they’ll be interested, and they’ll ask you questions. “I get it,” they’ll say if you’re lucky. Other responses to your attempts at explanation might be “Wow!” or “Huh.” or “Interesting. Why did you do this, again?” In the end you’ll be disappointed in most listeners, which is just as well because they won’t ask again. But better that than friends grasping it and then empathizing with their own stories of woe, as if they’ve done this same thing themselves, because they haven’t. No one has. Only your fellow OB crewmates could really understand, but it is up to you if you ever talk with them ever again. If you don’t, there’s nobody. You might be alone.
The Outward Bound experience was a lot of things. It was so “painful” – not a sharp hurt of a serious injury, but the continuously dull ache of challenge, like a sore spot you keep touching to make sure it’s there and that’s why it was so rewarding now as you relax, recover and reflect. The expedition was long enough to be over in an instant, as you lost touch with both the past and the future and lived only in the present. At once, you would do it over in a heartbeat and never again. You smile, as in perfect contentment, remembering the expense of the course yet now it is something your soul cannot be without, no money could buy it. You almost turned it down because you’d be away from friends and family too long, but this absence has made the heart grow not just fonder, but better. You knew the price, and now you know the value.
With fear and hope you head home. Sit back and savor this moment, so complete with possibilities, for there is no better place to be. “Adventure”- that mix of the simplicity and unknown, hard work and beauty, risk-taking and reward – has given to you exactly what you gave to it. Be gentle with yourself. You are burning.
Blog Contributor: Tyler Fish
In 2009 Tyler Fish was the first American to ski unsupported, unassisted to the North Pole. This winter he spent a lot of “dad and lad” time with his 18-month-old son and helped coach a state champion ski team. He is starting his 15th full-time year with Outward Bound and still believes that expeditions are just plain good for you.
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