Leadership, perseverance and hiking

Leadership and Perseverance

It was 6:45 am and she was still sleeping in the neighboring room – with the door open for circulation.  Should I wake her?  Or should I steal out the door and commence hiking alone?  She has been meeting fellow hikers fairly frequently at 7:00 am, I reasoned. So I texted, “Want to hike before it gets too hot?”  We were at the trailhead by 7:30 – Gold Star to Wildwood – not a maintained trail but we were at least familiar with both ends.  We dropped a car at Wildwood and set out for adventure. We got beauty. Red rock outcroppings and rock formations galore – all the features you never notice from the busy valley below. We followed the path, we followed washes, we followed wildlife trails.  We got back on the beaten path and made our way along “the bench.” We confirmed that desert bighorn live here – all over the place.  “You are a good trail finder,” she said.   I nodded. Actually, I usually can sense where people need to go. I am also pretty good at getting them there. “People have not always acknowledged that in the rest of my life,” I said. She affirmed it was worth the steady ascent at the beginning of the trail. We found a random boulder. “I want to be on top that rock!” she said. And she did. We were not travelling an officially maintained trail and somehow we lost the usually travelled path. “I bet it is above us,” I said. “I bet it is below,” she replied. We cut straight overland through cacti, brush, chinle and talus. Then, the inevitable happened, she lost patience. “You are now fired as trail finder,” she jeered.  “Where have I heard that before?” I thought sarcastically. Yet, 30 feet later, we stepped out on an unmistakably well-used trail.  Some yards further on, we joined our destination trail, familiar and official. Another mile of rugged downhill hiking and we were at the car, fist punching the air, “We did it!  We did it!”  Hooray for us!  Four hours of Wednesday morning well spent, followed by salad at an establishment that glorifies local produce.

A Hike and Write Challenge

She threw down the gauntlet in such a casual way via Facebook private message.  “Why don’t you,” she said, “Write an essay like this about our hike today?” Very well. I love to hike.  I love to write. The only problem is, the example she attached is that of a well-known uncategorical naturalist, wilderness lover and advocate. So what am I supposed to say?  “Move over Edward Abbey, I am here to write poetically about today’s hike with another great old broad – a regular rock toucher – a tree hugger – a lover of dirt in the great outdoors and fastidious, clean, professional detail indoors”

Contemporary that I am, I am no Meloy, Childs or Tempest. In fiction, I write about the philosophical struggles of relationships; girl meets boy, nefarious religion tamed, childhood injustices overcome.  Truth is, the best way to ferret out these bits of philosophical thought and what I really think is to take a hike.  Sometimes a stroll by running water, other times rigorous switchbacks on high desert boulders, and still less frequently, a hike with a friend.

I believe that there are semblances between seemingly disparate ideas if we can stand back and see a larger picture.” Terry Tempest Williams

Very well then, I whole-heartedly agree.  I take up the challenge – daily.

Undercover movie stars and Facebook stalking my grown kids

I had been writing for several years and was already published as a High Timber Times correspondent when I started blogging in 2006.  My daughter-in-law had a photo blog, which she updated regularly with photos of my infant grandsons; and she was honing her writing skills by blogging with other young mothers.  Shortly, I became addicted to the daily routine of checking out the internet and composing comments.

By 2008 conventional author wisdom said writers needed a platform on Facebook.  Dutifully, I built a profile. The first friends I chose were my technology wise children. With the oldest in media business, the second in college and the third in high school, I lurked, I stalked and basically kept up with their busy lives by watching for daily photos and conversations.

I visited college.  I met my daughter’s dorm mates and support network. I friended some. Others made insightful comments.  I followed them. I met my younger son’s girlfriends.  I shared prom pictures. Some of the girls remain my Facebook friends today.

So really, is it any wonder I proceeded to “research” my daughter’s new network when she began working high in the mountains at an adventure camp this summer?

Of course I began with Facebook.  For starters, I had to find the last names of the young men by cross-referencing mutual friends. Then I plugged a name into Google.

Up came a series of images. The usual suspects.  An accountant. A couple of college professors. A farm-team athlete. Gasp!  But, who was this movie star?  Hot.  With a photo like that you’d have to be a household name like Zac Efron. Maybe James Marsden. Well-known heartthrob! Yet, the features are unmistakably those of said co-worker. But the hair!  The clothes! Expensive. The obvious mark of a professional. Publicist. Stylist. Savvy photographer. “Andrea,” I croaked aloud,  “do you have any idea who you are working with?” Alert! Movie star undercover at AIE Base Camp!

Leather jacket. White, white for the T-shirt.  Confident and engaging pose.  Reminiscent of, of…. Wait – let me think while I fan myself. That’s it!  Senior pictures. Reminiscent of the senior pictures of my youngest son. Photo shoot compliments of my oldest son.

Who is this undercover movie star who works with my daughter in the wilds of Colorado? Relax mom, these are only senior pictures of a hot teenager with intuitive style. And the artistic work of a savvy professional photographer!

Philip Shellabarger 2009, Photo credit Kevin Decker, Paradice Studios
Philip Shellabarger 2009, Photo credit Kevin Decker, Paradice Studios


When did revenge become the right of the righteous?

Oops I did it again.  I followed one of those links.  You know the ones that begin, “You’ll never believe….” I hate them.  They lack credibility. They don’t make me LOL or cry like they promise.  But then, I am a bit more analytical and skeptical – less easily entertained than the average bear.

In this case, I considered the source and took the bait. Shared between a good, mainline Christian couple, with many years of marriage to their credit; I thought it would be a comedy. What followed was a video reenactment of a young man getting revenge through publicly humiliating an unfaithful bride. Right on the wedding day. Interrupting the ceremony. Though it made some people laugh, to me it seemed more like a Shakespearean tragedy.  It made me squirm. Was the groom hurt?  Yes. Irreparably. A cuckold through the actions of his best man. Did complete and pre-meditated revenge make him feel better?

Does revenge make any of us feel better? Does it solve or salve our hurt to humiliate someone else? With all my heart and brain, I believe there are consequences when we are untrustworthy. Justice demands consequences.  Punishment may be necessary. But does justice demand public humiliation? Overkill? Unnecessary roughness? Is gouging and turning of the dagger somehow more healing than precise extrication with a surgical knife? Mercy and righteousness say, “no.” Truth must be spoken. Yes. Relationships may need to be severed. Yes.  But revenge has never been the domain of the righteous.

Judeo-Christian ethic teaches that vengeance belongs to God and God alone.  Forget your WWJD? zeal and the resulting 70 X 7.  Look a few years B.C. and ask yourself, “What would Joseph do?”

Joseph, you may remember, was engaged to Mary.  Mary was pregnant and Joseph knew he had not slept with her. “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

A pox on your “Joseph had an angel,” excuses.  I refute them. Joseph had already decided to keep the law.  He had determined to keep it quietly, rather than vocally bludgeoning Mary and all her kin over the head with it. Consequences would be leveled, but without the catalyst of revenge.

Whatever happened to civility and good manners?  Why does hurt trump love? When did humility become humiliate?  What happened to doing good to your enemies? Or the golden rule?  And when did revenge become the triumphal war banner of the righteous?