My dad always says this. He’s been saying it for at least two decades. He doesn’t always say those words but the message is always the same. He’s tried so hard to make sure that my siblings and I look for adventure and take opportunities while we are young and healthy.
Most of the time he tells us this message through stories; stories from his own life. Since he figured out how to use an email address and digital camera he has taken photos and emails them to us attached to very lengthy messages of his experiences.
One time he was skiing in Waterton Lakes National Park. The ebony sky seemed to blend with the terrain and he couldn’t bifurcate the shadows of the forest from the heavens. He was mostly alone. He had heard about the cougars, lynx and other predators who call the park “home.”
At one point my dad stopped. Thirsty, he reached for his water bottle. After taking his refreshment he stood still. Something felt different. Heavier. He couldn’t hear anything above his breathing. He looked around and saw nothing. But nothing saw him.
The sky had blended with the terrain and my dad saw a pair of glinting lights. Trying not to stare directly at the lights my dad tried to figure out what to do. They had to be the eyes of some animal. Was it a predator? Were there more? He was a fair distance away from his end point. So he continued to ski at a slow pace. The lights followed him.
My dad stopped again. Looking at the lights indirectly he swears he could begin to see the outline of a beast. A strong cougar out at night, watching. He looked ahead. His goal was not too far. He looked back. There were tracks in the snow near his skis.
The tracks went behind him, across the path and into the other side of the wood. The air had changed. It was lighter. The animal was curious and wanted to learn more about my father but headed back home when it had lost interest. My dad continued along his way.
“That’s why I’m so sore. Yeesh!” Pride over his accomplishment mixed with agony over the pain he was in. This is how my father has ended so many of his stories, trying to impress upon me and my siblings that adventure is for the young. He’s getting older and older. So am I.
I am younger and healthier than him. I should probably listen to his advice.