A friend recently stumped me with what is possibly the most fascinating question in the world:
“What captivated you when you were 9? What was it that you spent every spare minute of your unstructured time doing?”
The concept behind the question is that that thing we did with our free time when we were approximately 9 has a lot to tell us about our life purpose. So, let’s jump in, shall we?
When I was 9 I:
- Read constantly. There was a period of time when my mother limited me to reading two books a day. I stretched that limit through starting one book the night before, finishing it plus a second and reading most of a third the next day. Insane.
- When I wasn’t reading, I was outside, running around the farm, creating imaginary worlds and embarking on incredibly detailed and magical adventures with my brother.
In short, I was either inside reading about the adventures of others or I was outside, creating my own.
My grandfather’s ranch:
My mother’s parents lived about a 4-hour drive from us, down in Oklahoma. We would visit several times a year – events that were always greatly anticipated.
My grandparents lived in Paradise – a cattle ranch with acres and acres of open pasture complete with a creek running directly through the middle of it.
The creek was small by normal creek standards and yet it had cut its way deep into the earth forming a mini canyon. Likely only 20 or so feet deep, to my 8 or 9 year old eyes, this canyon was vast and infinitely exciting. And the creek itself – oh my! The adventures that awaited!
We spent entire days out just roaming about – being explorers of the vast unknown.
Every day led to new delights, new adventures, and new territories to explore.
One year, much to our delight, we discovered a tree that had fallen across the creek and, for the first time ever, we were able to cross the rushing water and begin to explore the uncharted territories of the other side. The excitement! It could not be contained.
Of course, there were hazards to be aware of…
…snakes lurking behind the occasional fallen tree limb, deep gopher holes that could easily twist or break an ankle, the creek itself and, of course, the bulls.
None of that deterred us in any way. We had roles to play, adventures awaiting, new land to explore.
Only hunger would eventually pull us away from our explorations and back to the Land of the Adults.
Looking back, I can see how much I learned from those adventures.
How much those moment have influenced my life now.
Then, we were fully engaged in the moment, always venturing just a little further into the unknown. Stretching our boundaries, exploring our limitations. And yet, we had support. We knew our parents weren’t that far away.
Plus, we had each other. We were each others’ best Allies.
What did we learn?
We learned to:
- take calculated risks: for instance, timing our crossing of the bull pen – scary!
- know where we were in relation to grandpa’s house at all times;
- support each other. There was this complete, though unstated, understanding that we had each others’ back if anything bad happened.
- be a part of a team and collaborate/plan our route together.
- engage and trust our senses – our eyes, our ears, our felt-sense (I recall several times when we changed direction simply because the direction we were going had a ‘bad’ feel).
- be in the moment. We never embarked on our mission with some outcome in mind. We just couldn’t wait to get out there so we could discover what was out there.
Basically, we learned some pretty impressive life skills.
Of course, back then, we didn’t think of it as learning life-skills – we were just kids out in my grandpa’s pasture, which happened to have this amazing creek running through it, exploring the day away.
Looking back, I feel this sense of nostalgia.
I felt so alive and engaged as we explored the creek and surrounding pasture-land.
I long for that sense of engagement, of curiosity, of risk-taking, of being outside for hours/days at a time!, to be more present now, in my daily life.
I can see how these experiences have so much to offer me now.
That sense of adventure, of exploration, is something that I consistently bring into my work with clients.
And, this sense of adventure, of fully engaging with my surroundings, is something I’m slowly re-discovering more and more in my personal life as well.
What were your passions when you were 9? Was there some thing or activity that you turned to the moment you had a moment free from your parents and other obligations? If so, do tell!
Portlanders! A new 4-week Shiva Nata series is beginning on May 10th. We will be using Shiva Nata to help us get out of our heads and into our senses. I’m super excited about this series as it combines two of my favorites things: Senses and Shiva Nata. Check it out here.