Isn’t it Easier to Give Up?
Imagine it’s 4:00 in the morning, two degrees below zero outside the cold canvas wall tent, the fire in the stove died a couple of hours ago and the remaining coals aren’t enough to keep the temperature in the tent above ten degrees. Heavy snow has been falling for hours, piling up over a foot outside, on top of the eight inches that fell the day before. You are tired and sore after four days of chasing elk in the rugged mountains, and the blaring alarm clock wakes you from a deep sleep. How badly do you want to get out of your warm sleeping bag, lace on cold boots, and head out into the wilderness for another ten miles of hiking over steep inclines, thick forest blow-downs, and harsh terrain while the frigid wind forms ice cycles on your eye lashes from the fog of your breath?
I’m sure most of you would answer that you would jump out of bed, stoke the fire, throw on a pot of water for coffee and oatmeal, and start getting ready for your hunt, that’s why you are there, right? Yeah, it’s hard, some of it is miserable, but it’s adventurous, and it’s the excitement that lies ahead that drives you. That’s the heart of a sportsman or woman, and I believe those qualities carry over into the other parts of our lives. Sure, it’s easy to stay in bed on a day like that, but if you give up on that day, what else will you give up on in life?
Determination and persistence will get you very far in life, in many ways, and these are traits of people who hunt, fish, or participate in other outdoor activities that take a lot of internal drive to achieve. A dear friend of mine (who does not fish or hunt, but does enjoy the outdoors) has a very strong personal desire to achieve great things in her life, and she does achieve them. She doesn’t come across as an outdoors person, although once you get to know her that part of her is revealed. Anyone who loves the rain is likely an outdoors person; that’s hard to explain, but you can probably understand what I mean if you love the rain, which I do too.
One day a couple of years ago this friend surprised me by telling me that she was going to hike a 14’ner, which in Colorado means hiking one of the many 14,000’ tall mountains, and that is no easy feat. It’s no wonder that my friend is a very high achiever in everything else she does in her life; she has that internal drive, and I admire that very much about her.
It is that determination and spirit of adventure that pushes all of us to go the extra mile, to hunt until the last light when you know you have a three mile hike back to camp in the dark, through pouring rain and lightning. Or the grit to wade into a freezing river at five in the morning to put your decoys out, and then sit in a cold blind for hours hoping to get even a single duck or goose. Or the persistence to stand in a river of flowing snow-melt in January, casting a tiny midge over and over, trying to hook even one fish for the day.
It is these qualities, these pieces of who we are, that make us what we are. Strong people, full of desire, we don’t know the word “quit,” with a thirst for the next adventure, the next challenge in life, and nothing is insurmountable to us. What we learn and practice in the wild carries over to our everyday lives, and it makes us who we are, which is something to be proud of.