Man how time flies! I’ve been meaning to write this post and many others for more than a month now. I can’t believe October is almost over. Today will be exactly 2 weeks left of work for me here at beautiful Mesa Verde.
A few weeks ago I had a wonderful, wonderful visit from some dear family. The long weekend spent with them was amazing in so many ways. But in particular I found myself astounded in the midst of a revelation: I am not nearly as original as I thought.
When I titled this blog ‘The Road Less Traveled,’ I hoped to chronicle my adventures in something a little different. I knew my life was headed in a direction I hadn’t anticipated, but was very excited for, and came up with the name as a way to demonstrate, really, my own creativity. Look at me! I thought – Aren’t I original!? I came up with all these fun adventures all on my own! But spending time with my grandparents and mother made me realize that although I may be the only park ranger in the family (so far), it wouldn’t be truthful to say I came to this place and these interests all on my own. These three remarkable people who traveled so far to say hello had a lot to do with all of this.
WARNING: THE REMAINDER OF THIS POST IS INCREDIBLY, INCREDIBLY CORNY. READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK.*
First, my grandfather, Yeye.
When I look back through this blog and think about the avenues I’ve considered these past few years: my Peace Corps ambitions, my decision to work for the Park Service, my burgeoning interest in sustainability and the graduate work I’m contemplating – everything basically comes down to one core desire. It’s incredibly corny and totally idealistic, but when I think about what I want to do with my life, the honest answer that shoots to the front of my head is that I want to save the world. I know this is a very big goal, and I don’t anticipate a superhero moment, but I do want to give back to this planet I feel has given so much to me. When I think about it, I’m fairly certain my altruistic tendencies began with The Noble Force.
When we were growing up, Yeye, like many grandfathers, told my cousins and I stories. But instead of princesses and dragons and knights saving the day, Yeye’s stories centered around a group, made up of my cousins and I, called The Noble Force. Think Power Rangers but without the funny costumes and ninja moves. My brother Bryan and cousin Victor were pilots, my cousin Amanda was a doctor, and I was a scientist. Together we traveled the world saving big cities from terrorist destruction and tiny villages in the amazon from enormous arachnids. Rather than physically fighting our way to a victory, Yeye always crafted some solution that involved Amanda and I coming up with a grand invention and Bryan and Victor using their mechanical skills to implement it. So although the stories had a superhero slant to them, the power of The Noble Force wasn’t supernatural. The Noble Force was just a group of really smart kids using their skills to fight for what was right.
And now that I’m (sort of) a grown-up I’m starting to realize that what I’m wanting to do with my career is live my own real-life version of The Noble Force. I’m no scientist, but I’m learning how to do good with the skills that I have. And come on, a park ranger is a pretty noble gig.
And then there’s my grandmother, Ita.
Watching the way this lady threw herself at every obstacle we came to on this trip made me realize a very possible source of my adventurous spirit. Ita climbed every rock, finished every trail, and absorbed every detail of the challenges we threw her way. She makes no effort to restrain her joy, and that is my favorite part about her. She taught me to throw myself headfirst into my passions and reap the rewards. Unfailing in her love and support, she has this incredible way of using her light not to blind, but to illuminate whatever needs brightening. And I haven’t forgotten my very first adventures in the outdoors were with her.
Last but not least, my amazing mother.
Years before I traveled to this inspiring wilderness of rock, I spent a summer editing my mother’s first book – a fictional story of a world overtaken by rot, where only stones could endure and therefore held all keys to the truth. Is it coincidence that I would later find myself in my own rock reality, desiring to fight whatever rot may take the beauty from this place?
From my mother I learned to care, to fight, and to write. I learned to love beauty, passion, and myself. She taught me to be motivated, and to listen, and to feel. I aspire towards her patience and grace, though I admit I still have a ways to go in that department. She planted the seeds of my inspirations. Her pride is the sun to my flowers, her love is my rain. She loves me so much that I have the uncommon opportunity to be absolutely whoever I want to be.
My family’s love (and I’m so fortunate to have even more where that came from) has become my superpower. With them I am limitless. I know whatever path I choose they will support me immeasurably and with only the necessary questions (thinking for yourself is, of course, something else I learned from them). But coming to terms with their influence on my life does have one downside. I have to give credit where credit is due. I’m not nearly as innovative as I had thought. In fact, I am totally and completely unoriginal.
*I told you it would be corny.