Waking to the sound of water pelting the window and a gloomy sky that looked to be parked for the day, I heaved a dissatisfied sigh. Jaime and I had planned to be out on the trail all day long. This presented a problem.
Some say dealing with undesirable weather is “all part of the adventure.” Maybe. I’ve endured my share of it. A thunderstorm that developed from a cloudless Teton sky and nearly capsized our canoe. Pummeling hail that caught us as we emerged from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Plummeting temperatures and snow that materialized on a sunny, warm September afternoon.
Previously confessed trail-commitment issues aside, I can take some weather. What I have zero interest in is misery for misery’s sake. Jaime and I go to the wilderness for its power to heal and restore—not to prove how much torment we can take. Because our hike—and our day—was something we wanted to enjoy rather than endure, we chose to roll with the situation as it presented itself and make a plan B.
Yellowstone is big—roughly the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined big. At that size, inclement weather in one part of the park doesn’t mean inclement weather in every part of the park. Drive far enough, we figured, and things might be different. We got in the car and headed north.
The Thing That Changes Everything
After leaving Old Faithful, we drove through nearly two hours of drizzle. At Mammoth Hot Springs, we were greeted by the remnants of recent rain. Water pooled on the asphalt and clung to the window panes of the area’s historic buildings, and a bright sky hinted at the sun shining behind the dissipating clouds.
We were still deciding which hike we wanted to take as Jaime pulled into a parking spot at the Albright Visitor Center. Exiting the vehicle, I turned to cross the road. When I looked up, I stopped, stunned. There, hanging in a narrow valley between Mammoth and Mount Everts, was something I’d never seen before: the gentle arc of the top of a rainbow. Jaime and I stood in awed silence.
Where we come from, we look up at rainbows.
Eventually, the prism faded. We did whatever we’d stopped at the visitor center to do and set off on our hike. I’m sure it was a good one. They usually are. What I remember is the rainbow. After decades of visits to Yellowstone (and even a summer living there) seeing that bow in the sky remains a standout moment. It’s one of many lessons Yellowstone has taught about what it means to live well.
Perspective—how we look at things—changes everything. When it comes to adventure, perspective matters. Do we look at adventure as an experience to have or do we see it as a mindset to cultivate?
We’re Choosing an Adventurous Life. Or Not.
A few years ago, my nephew told me about the Choose Your Own Adventure books. It’s a series written in such a way that the reader takes on the role of the main character and makes choices that determine the actions of the character. Those choices shape the outcome of the story. The result? The reader controls the plot and determines the outcome.
We’ve been given a choose-your-own-adventure-life. We’re always choosing. We’re shaping our own story. Every single day. One choice at a time. Here’s the hard question: Are we choosing to live an adventurous life or are we cruising on autopilot chasing after or wishing for more adventure?
We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. It’s absolutely okay to desire and plan for and execute challenging and exciting experiences. But, if we don’t use them as fertilizer to foster an adventurous mindset, we won’t develop the spiritual muscle required to live an adventurous life.
Some challenges we choose. Others we simply have to face. Within those, what we do get to choose is our perspective and our mindset. To live an adventurous life is to take the mindset we use for the challenges we choose into the ones we face in the landscape of the everyday.
Pause & Reflect
As you look toward the new year, consider the most physically or emotionally demanding thing you’ve ever chosen to take on. Compare that to a difficult life situation you’ve faced by no choice of your own. Do you use the lessons of the challenges you took on by choice to influence your perspective about the ones you would never choose? How can you use them to spur yourself toward an adventurous mindset during tough times?
Give it some thought. Let us know how we can encourage and support you in living an adventurous life.
happy trails ~ Natalie