Just the other day an old friend contacted me after almost 30 years. Needless to say, it was a very emotional reunion, and even though it was a get-together by phone, we quickly knew time could not weaken the bond we had built and held throughout those many years.
My friend now had a wonderful family with a wife and four kids and had become a successful orthopedic surgeon on the West Coast. After filling him in on my wife, two sons and my new granddaughter it did not take long for us to talk about what bonded and held us together throughout all the years and time. It was growing up wild.
My friend asked about some of the old meadows, woods and creeks that played such an important part of our growing up. In many ways, these wild places directed our life’s journey. Those places guided us along the road to become who we are today. Some of those wild places, now gone for forever, were plowed over and buried, some inaccessible by fences and signs; and others that stood up to the bulldozers and concrete and were now saved
Growing up our family lives were far from perfect. We did not have to talk about or discuss it in length. We both just knew that things were much better when we got outside. When we walked through the meadows, slogged through the mud and rested under the trees all else was left behind. The bad things could not follow us, and despite their dogged attempt to shadow us on our path, it soon weakened and fell by the wayside, forgotten about at least until we were finally forced to leave nature’s refuge for the day.
“We didn’t have much,” my friend said. “But we sure led a great life! We grew up in wild places, went where we wanted and did things that you can never forget or probably ever do again,” he added. “Those fences would not have kept us out back in those days!” I laughingly agreed.
My friend was right. We did not have much, many material things were way beyond our reach and our dreams of the future seemed too much to consider. But we knew that nature would always be there for us. The natural world was the one thing we could depend on. It never judged us and it was a place where we were always welcomed and felt safe. “Everything we experienced back then directed us to the place we are now,” I said. “Nature guided us to where we are both supposed to be, even though it was thousands of miles apart,” he quietly agreed.
We talked about how the kind of life we knew growing up was gone, never to be relived or revived. Now only the memories were left, the powerful ones that took us on our long life’s journey. His to heal people so that they can move and walk to enjoy life again, and mine to help protect the nature that we both loved, and in my own way to help people learn what we both needed no words to say: It’s good to grow up wild.
We talked about getting together for a fishing trip come spring, much like we did back then. Maybe along a stream where once again we could stand together under the trees, laugh, watch the birds go by and wonder why the fish aren’t biting. But now to also talk about where we have been and how we got where we are while reminiscing and reminding ourselves that all of it is surrounded, encircled and inspired by being able to walk in nature’s path.
My wish is that everyone can get outside, connect with nature, take it all in and let it guide along life’s path. You never know how far it will take you
See you in the Meadowlands.