Choosing a Soap Opera over Paradise
In the summer of 1987, my father took my step-mom, my two step-brothers, my sister and me to Kauai for the first time. It was a super fun week spent in a condo, with a pool, near the beach. We played on the beach, ate out in tropical restaurants, enjoyed the water and the sun. And every day, I sat by the pool. Every single day. So that I could be close to the condo. Why? Because every day at 2 pm I had an appointment with the television. I walked back into the condo to watch Days of Our Lives. Yep. Here I was in tropical paradise, and I did not want to miss a single episode of “Days.” Steve and Kayla. Frankie and Jen. Drama, drama, drama and I wasn’t willing to miss a single episode. This was long before DVR.
Every day, my family – particularly my father and my sister – would roll their eyes at me. “What about the beach?” they’d ask. “We’re all going to the beach!” Sure, I’d go for a little bit, but ewww…the sand. And the saltwater made my legs itch. “No thank you” to the ocean when I could sit by the pool all day, AND not miss my favorite show. I was a bit lonely. But at least I wouldn’t miss an episode of “Days.”
And then one day, part way through the week, my sister came to me and cut me a deal. “Ok. If you come with me to the beach for awhile and try snorkeling with me, I will spend the afternoon with you at the pool.”
Ugh. Snorkeling. I didn’t want to put my head under that sandy water. And have that that big old plastic straw that other people had used in my mouth. I was scared I was going to inhale water. Scared of getting tossed in the waves. For what? To see a few fish? I didn’t get it.
But I had to admit I was kind of bored on my own all day at the pool. So I went with her that day. I went to the beach. I put on the snorkel mask after she showed me how to use it properly – how to blow water out of the big straw if it got in there. I took some time, got used to just breathing with it on my face for a few minutes. And then I started floating a bit, getting a feel for it, even arching my head up, looking around. And I looked and I looked. In the distance, but not too far, I noticed some shadowy figures.
And then I saw.
I saw the most beautiful, colorful, alive and swimming-right-in-front-of-me fishies I’d ever seen. I’d seen photos of these, maybe even seen videos on the T.V. But I’d never seen them for real. In person. Close enough to touch. I couldn’t believe the intensity of color! The proximity! The way I bobbed in the water at the same time the fishies did! I couldn’t believe I was actually snorkeling! That my head was under water and I was still breathing! I was really doing it! For a moment I didn’t even feel like I was in my body – that’s how intense this experience was for that 12 year old girl.
It is that experience that I look back on when I think about the kind of impact a few hours outside in nature can have on an individual, that can possibly change or shape them from that moment on. All it takes is the right experience in the right moment. For something to click. Like it did for me that first moment under the water, seeing those fish. And maybe my legs still itched from the saltwater - but that’s not what I remember about that day.
My eventual goal for this art business is to help fund non-profit organizations that get kids outside, to get them to that moment that “clicks” for them. Not click on the screen! But to get them outside for longer periods of time. Long enough so that something inside them might *click* like it did for me that day in the ocean.
In my previous post – here – I spoke about this in depth: I am looking for the perfect non-profit organization that provides outdoor experiences for kids with the intention of getting them outdoors for fun experiences, healing experiences, or just simply to be together outdoors. I’d love to find something local here in Oregon, but am open to seeing what is happening in other states.
Do you know of any organizations that fit this description? You can contact me here. Please let me know so I can look them up!
Do you have a great childhood memory of being outdoors? Please share it with me here – I’d love to hear about it! (I’ll be sharing more of mine in the future).