Each Tuesday morning, backpack packed and layered up, I leave home just before the sun is up and head west. By the time I arrive at our agreed upon trailhead, morning has broken. For absolutely no reason I can think of, after all this year hasn’t exactly blessed any of us with four-leafed clovers, Tuesdays have all dawned sunny and relatively warm. When you live in part of the country where temperatures in the mid minus twenties are common, to be able to hike in December is not something to be taken lightly. Week after week, my hiking partner, Brenda, and I, have been amazed that we have been able to continue our ritual.
I love the physical challenge of the hikes. I love the feeling of a sore, worn-out, well-used (all in a good way) body at the end of each hike. I also love the feeling of peace that comes over me as we walk along. Most often this season, our weekly hikes have been in the range of ten to thirteen kilometres. They take a full morning to complete, as we climb on the outbound route and carefully descend on the return. This past Tuesday, the morning was crisp but due to warm up. Brenda and I arrived at one of the parking lots we have sometimes used. It was Brenda’s week to choose the hike and she had a few for us to pick from. She offered that we ‘just do nine or ten’ if that’s what I felt like. Alternatively, she’d found one that looked to be about sixteen kilometres. It didn’t take me long to sign up for the longer hike. The more I have on my mind, the more miles I need to walk through it!
As we headed up the first trail, which would eventually meet with a second one, Brenda asked, “Are we nuts?” Without a second’s hesitation, I replied, “No!” And so, we marched on. The question wasn’t without merit. This was a long distance. We had covered this length of hike before, but not in the winter, and not in snow covered conditions. There were no tracks to follow, and the trail, while easy to follow in some places, was not marked at all in others.
The trail took us up over double the elevation we have been used to and we were both puffing as we climbed one hill after the other. Three times Brenda asked, “Are we nuts?” Three times came my easy, “No!” It was only on the fourth time being questioned, that while I still gave my same, truthful, reply, did I start to wonder if we might be. It was two o’clock and we still had at least seven kilometres to cover. Dark comes early in Alberta. We needed to be off the trail by around four o’clock. It was completely doable, and neither of us were worried, but we had no window for dilly dallying, taking pictures, or for mis-reading our map.
Here is the truth. Most people I know do think I’m nuts for doing things like this. I don’t know anyone else who thinks this is fun. Neither do I know anyone who thinks my biking trips with Rhonda sound like fun. Sometimes people tell us to our faces, “You guys are nuts!” Other times they smile and nod, and I’m sure later say to someone else, “They must be nuts!”
I got this same reaction when I was long distance running. Most people think marathoners are nuts. The same thoughts are had when I tell a group of young teenagers that they and I might be able to build some classrooms in Kenya. I must be nuts. When our dance group, in non-Covid years, dresses up in wacky costumes to perform for seniors, we get looks letting us know others think we are nuts. But the seniors never do. And we love being nuts together.
Finally, finally, I have hit a place in life when I’m really quite delighted with being nuts. It’s a wonderful part of my life. No life should be without some nuts.
When we are nuts, we are doing things that speak to our own souls. These are things that matter to us individually. Nuts things make us feel alive. They are often a bit off the beaten path for others. Nuts things are the things we will remember long into our twilight years. I’m not concerned about being nuts, I’m worried I won’t have enough years left to do all the nuts things I want.
This Christmas will not look like any of the others we have had, nor will it feel normal. I’m hoping despite that, we will find some ways to go nuts with those we love. Our family can’t have Christmas dinner together like we had hoped, but we will figure out a way to somehow be connected on this special day. I hope we can figure out something to do that will have others asking, “Are you nuts?”
May each of you too, find things to do that will have you asking yourselves, “Are we nuts?’
My inquiry for you this week is, “Are we nuts?”
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to be nuts in your workplace, in your home and in your heart.