Finally Comfortable

My family can attest to my childhood dislikes. Among them included physical activity (this includes walking or “hiking”), being outside unless it was a backyard or a beach, bugs, insects, spiders, moths, the heat, sweating in general, and being dirty. Coming from this place makes my recent life choices and experiences even more interesting. This March I accepted a job leading teens in adventure travel, many trips which include all of the above listed items. In May I bought my first pair of hiking boots (Yes, even though I’m from Colorado). In June during training, I spent the most consecutive nights in a tent in my life (11). The other day in the Amazon jungle, the realization of my changes became clear. We began preparing for our hike by putting on knee high rain boots provided by our guides. I’m positive the teens didn’t understand what this meant about our hike. Carlos spoke to them in the bus on the way over, his words slathered in sarcasm, “Ustedes van a estar muy limpios, muy bien limpios despues de este.” (“You guys are going to be so clean, just SO clean after this!).
We started on the climb down the hillside. Right away we were trudging through thick, fresh mud, as I expected from the previous night’s torrential downpour (note: the Amazon is a rainforest). Within minutes, complaints were coming from the crowd. It’s hot. I’m tired. I don’t want to hike. It’s so gross and muddy. Some I heard out loud, while others were memories of myself, echoing from the past. I laughed at myself and tried to encourage the teens along in their discomfort. It was then I realized the difference between then and now. Discomfort. I used to be unable to handle it. Even the slightest bit bothered me. I checked into the current moment. The sun was beating down on me and I was working hard to step through the ankle-deep mud without falling. My back was soaked in sweat, made worse by the heavy pack I carried. I was filthy. Showers had become less frequent on the trip, but that wasn’t the worst. The mud was everywhere-splashing on my pants, rubbing on my knees when we climbed, on my hands when I reached for leverage, and then wiped on my pants and shirt. Underneath that was a thick layer of sunscreen and Deet bug spray, forming a dense combination of chemicals on my unwashed skin. But inside…inside I was thrilled. I felt like a child, swishing into the mud like it was forbidden. The trees, flowers, and landscape around me was incredible. I felt lucky and in awe to have the chance to experience its beauty firsthand. We found spiders, butterflies, and giant red ants. I came close to them, enjoying their uniqueness and interesting features, excited to learn about another species here. Above all, I was happy to have grown out of the distraction of discomfort, knowing many of the teens around me had not gotten there yet. I hoped they would soon, so they could truly see, feel, and experience the life around us as I had. Despite heat. Despite mud. Depsite discomfort.

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  1. I remember those early years when we all tried to get you interested in hiking and to see the beauty surrounding us. I am so proud of you for finally finding out what we were trying to get you to see back then and enjoying the beauty of what God created. Love, DAD

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