Kids in the wild: untamed, unsupervised, uncontrolled.
I once read that adventure is the result of ineptitude. I had lots of adventures. It’s the trips that didn’t go as planned, the days when nature threw a curve—those are the days I remember best. The days that went well and could be called successful are long since forgotten in the gray haze of marching time. But, oh, those lessons I learned the hard way—those seem like yesterday.
Through each misadventure there was a bit of valuable learning that I didn’t fully appreciate until adulthood. When I think back on the episodes in this book, I realize the lessons learned help me in my everyday life.
Many of the adventures caused my father to question my sanity and tested his patience. During my boyhood and into my teens, I was a wild kid and a magnet for trouble. Despite our differences I instinctively knew my father loved me, but I felt he didn’t like me. There’s a difference, and being liked was what I craved at the time.
There were moments when the divide between father and son ebbed and we’d have a real connection, a real conversation. These usually happened when we were fishing with my brother. But the thaw in our relationship was often shattered when I’d get myself in a new tangle of trouble. He wondered why I always had to push the limits, the boundar-ies, and the rules. I wish I could find the words to tell him, but I had no idea what drove me.
I did, however, have a goal. As far back as I can remember, I wanted a cabin in the mountains, a place to call my own. I didn’t know it at the time, but all my explorations in the woods were feeding this dream, making it something of an obsession.
During quiet times I sketched pictures of what I thought my cabin and its land should look like. Even at a young age I innately knew that if I wasn’t close to nature—at least periodically—something was missing. I’d lie in bed at night thinking of all the wonderful adventures I’d have at this imaginary cabin. And I hoped when my father visited the cabin, we’d finally develop the deeper relationship I craved.
Instead, a family tragedy shook our world, and my father’s remarkable response to this event caused me to step back and see the man he was. By observing him throughout this ordeal, I too became a man.
And the cabin? The idea of it was like a smoldering fire that no amount of heartache could extinguish, and when the yearning came roaring back, I found an unlikely ally. Although my father’s new burden meant he likely would never see it, he gave me a loan and I bought a cabin in the mountains.
It looked remarkably like the pictures I used to draw.