When we think about the early connection between a father and son, perhaps we imagine a nostalgic image of them fishing together. It’s a tradition deeply engrained in the American psyche. With good reason, it’s one of the few cultural rituals we offer children positive messages of masculinity.
For those who have had such an experience know fishing is more than the sum of its parts. For the rest of us, like those in the first Nintendo/MTV generation who grew up without much vision for positive outdoor experiences, here’s a little of what we’ve been missing.
- Fostering Conversations You Wouldn’t Have at Home
- Investing in Your Collective Emotional Future
- Teaching Environmental Stewardship
Thankfully it’s never too late to do something for the first time… and let the simple goodness of life surprise you. I learned this lesson over again when Grandpa took us all fishing for the first time.
Watching my son’s face light up with pride as he reels in his first fish, in the presence of his grandfather, is a significant moment beyond the moment itself. It’s a healing and aligning of generations, as one passes on wisdom to the next — it’s an act of affirming a positive identity as those who will and must someday become men.
When I was growing up, there was a drainage ditch down the street from a friend’s house. We called this place Crawdad Creek because another friend once found a crawdad there. I never caught one, but I remember spending hours trying. Looking back, those were the moments it felt like childhood was magical.
Exploring the natural world connects us to the awe and wonder of life itself.
As a grown up living in the largest city in the state, I lament how much of our life together is spent surrounded by concrete. It’s difficult to find natural spaces like lakes, creeks, or wooded areas for outdoor play — except they do make spaces like that.
They call them parks.
Now there is a Crawdad Creek at Platte River State Park, one of the eight other Nebraska State Parks easily accessible. Thanks to some new friends we made at a local unschooling group, who invited us out and freely shared fishing nets and buckets of all sizes, the kids had the best day of the summer so far!
Sometimes the more you work, the less you get.
If you’ve ever felt so exhausted you don’t have any energy left to do the things that would fill you back up, you wouldn’t be alone.
I often wonder how much of the nuclear family’s limited time, energy and resources are gobbled up making everything fit into individual bite-sized meals, grocery runs, laundry, errands, chores, educational events, and special activities leaving nothing left to nourish vital friendships because everybody else is now working harder for the same individual bite-sized slices of life. It’s easy to feel trapped in an endless cycle of diminishing returns. But what if — what if we could make a better investment with our daily sweat, blood, and tears?
For the last month, a family friend and I, with whom we have kids of similar ages, began a “crazy” experiment to address some of these issues. The idea was to see if there would be any mutual benefit in doing our school time together as two families working as one.
There’s Only One
The term priorities, with an ‘s’ on the end, is self-contradictory.
If something is a priority, it is the most important thing. When we have two or more items defined as the most important, it doesn’t elevate their importance. It does the opposite. We no longer know which one is more important and it’s confusing, overwhelming and wastes far too many resources. Like a top heavy Jenga puzzle, more stuff piled on top guarantees it’ll come crashing down.
When a priority competes with another priority, it loses all of its power — the power of clarity.
When you know what’s most important, you don’t have to ask needless questions. You reduce decision fatigue. You focus your energy. You can move forward in confidence giving your full attention to what’s in front of you. You already decided to focus on the most important.
But it only happens if we do the hard work of deciding the priority in life right now. If we had to choose only one, forsaking all others, what would endure and retain its value?