Friday, June 24, 2016

Look Up

Look Up.  Two words when put together seem so simple to understand.  That would appear to be an accurate statement however, it took me 40 plus years to realize the true meaning.

So here I am, in boot camp, two weeks  after graduating high school.  Marching, marching, marching.  The only place you look is directly at the back of the head of the airman who is marching in front of you. The goal in this scenario is a group moving as one.  Everyone knowing what each other is going to do at every step of the way. A rudimentary concept, yes.  Given what we were training for, it was understood that rudimentary concept could save your life one day.  That sets the tone.  Always focused, always driven.  Focused and driven towards the goal that has been set, no matter how big or how small. 

Hindsight being what it is, it took me many years to transition to a mindset of a TRUE appreciation of, shall we say, the surroundings.  The surroundings when you are trying to reach a goal or simply understand  life.  Let me explain as best I can.

I have lived in Colorado since my late 20's.  That means I have the view of the Rocky Mountains at my disposal.  Disposal in the sense I can simply look up from almost anywhere I am at any given moment and see their beauty.  Sure, I would notice them from time to time when I first moved here.  True appreciation of them, not even close.

Fast forward to my mid 30's.  I felt the need to get back to nature and decided to start hunting elk in those same Rocky Mountains.  Motivated and now driven by a friend who has been hunting the elusive wapiti since he was a kid, I figured why not?  I never heard him chuckle outwardly as he agreed to let me tag along.  And now here I was, not knowing shit about shit when it comes to hunting elk and "hoofing it" at elevations between 8,500 and almost 10,000 feet above sea level.

Make no mistake, hunting is hunting at the very basic level.  The stark realization of it all comes when you begin to understand the game you are hunting varies widely in it's native terrain and behavior.  What that means is you are in for a ride.  He drug me all over those Rocky Mountains that first trip.  He had "to show the me the terrain," he said.  "You gotta go where they are", he said.  Cussing under my breath the whole way.  Nonetheless, I kept going because I wanted to experience everything I could.  Unforgiving terrain is what I experienced for the most part that hunt.

I experienced something else.  I didn't realize it until my second hunt though.  During the first hunt,  I was focused on following my hunting partner up and down those hills.  Getting my bearings and committing to memory the terrain.  Being the rookie, I didn't want to mess up his hunt.  He was sacrificing for me to learn the ropes.  (Something I'll be forever grateful for)   Come that second hunt, I was out on my own.  Wandering as I saw fit.  Trying to find the elk in their backyard.  Meandering aimlessly for a bit while trying to stay warm, (we hunt in November) I stopped...and looked up.  What I saw was amazing.  Simply standing out there, all by yourself, with almost nobody around for miles, soaking it all in. 

I never realized just how important it is to not lose site of the true meaning behind those two simple words until that moment.  Look up.  If you don't, you may miss the beauty of wherever you call home  has to offer.  You may also miss the beauty your life is offering you. 

Look up.  You never know what you'll see.