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I’m late to the ballgame here, but since last Sunday was Father’s Day and we are currently in Michigan, spending time with family, including my Father, here are five traits he’s passed on to me, that have shaped me in to the curious, independent, adventure-seeker I am. . .
One: His Sense of Direction. We call my dad, the “human gyro” as in “human gyroscope”, because you can spin him in any direction but he can- no matter how turned around,- always find north. I’ve literally never, ever seen him get lost. Or use a GPS. I am but a humble amateur in his extreme navigational footsteps, but do I get my good sense of direction from him. When my clinical group was assigned a new hospital I was always the navigator, leading the pack to our new unit. Hospitals are notoriously maze-like. I’m not afraid to wander, thanks to this sixth sense. I’ve seen a lot that I would have probably otherwise missed, because of it. Its a gift, thanks Dad.
Two: A love of maps. If you mention a location, are planning a trip, or just spit-balling ideas for your next vacation, you can bet the next thing you will see is my dad, coming at ya, with his trusty Rand McNally road atlas. He’ll be giving you directions to, and info about this location before you can even type “Google”. When we were in high school, my social studies teacher would occasionally let us play a made-up game he called “Map Wars”. He would pull down a map, it could be any map- the world, a region or country- and name a location. Two people would stand up in front of the map and scour it to find the place named. The first to raise their hand and correctly identify the location would win points for their team. I LOVED map wars. We had a U.S. states map puzzle as kids, I LOVED putting that puzzle together. I cannot see a Rand McNally road atlas without getting excited about all the possibility it holds.
Three: The ability to plan adventures with reckless abandon. When you talk to my dad, he’ll likely tell you about his “next bike trip” he just read about on his favorite bicyclist blog, Crazy Guy on a Bike. The next time you talk to him, it will be a different trip entirely. In the past year, he’s told me about the trips he’s planning to Argentina, France, Ireland, Montana, and of course, Poland. We are always scheming up ideas of things to do, places to go, things to see. My favorite books and magazines follow other’s adventures, or tell me how to go on one. At any given moment, its likely I have two or three (four, five, six and seven too) future adventures, big and small, semi-planned out in my head. I’ve already figured out the easiest and best way for most of our family and friends to get to visit us in Poland. I’m a planner. To me, planning is half the fun, and adventure plans are my specialty.
Four: The inability to sit still. My dad drove with the boys and I when we were heading back to New York, after spending this last winter in Michigan. He wanted to pack his skis, or his skates, to go up to Ottawa to skate the Rideau Canal, or ski the little local Dry Hill. If you want to know how to take your adventure to the next level, just hand it to my dad for a while and he’ll hand back the enhanced version. On any given day, it’s likely he’s out on his bike or playing hockey or taking care of his chore list. But its more likely that he’s doing all three. Once, on a sunny fall day in Seattle, I was hanging out with some friends. They were doing basically nothing (nothing wrong with that, btw!), and the day was beckoning. I said goodbye, to go ride my bike and see what there was to see. As I was leaving someone asked “where’s she going?” My friend replied, “She has wanderlust.” I just can’t let a day go to waste.
Five: The ability to take the leap. The older I get, the more I become my mother. Its fine. I like growing plants, cooking, brisk walks and telling my boys “Eat it! Its good! AND its good for you!”. But, when it comes to my sense of adventure and willingness to take a leap, I am my father’s daughter. I have to hand it to my parents, they’ve really given me wings in life. Not once have they told me I “can not” or “should not” when it comes to the adventures I’ve planned. They showed nothing but support when I wanted to move across-country. I’m sure they worried…you guys worried, right? But I never knew it. They even drove my car for me when I was on a time crunch to start a new job there. ..Those enablers. They’re always excited when they find out I’m moving somewhere new. They can’t wait for the excuse to visit and explore a new place. Even though I know they miss me…. you guys miss me, right? When my dad was 21 he rode the Greyhound bus from Grand Rapids, MI to Billings, MT to start a new job and a new adventure. When he was 15, he rode his bike from Grand Rapids to the Mackinaw Bridge. I think his excitement about adventures like that must have ingrained in me as a kid, and when I grew up, it was fun to discover I could take the leap and go on my own grand adventures, knowing I was always backed by the love and support of my parents, and the enthusiasm of my Dad.