I never had the chance to do many outdoor activities as a child until my early teens. I grew up in a fairly normal home in a fairly normal suburb.
Everything was typically suburban for my early years. I had a bike and would play basketball with friends after school. But, all that ended when my parents divorced and dad got the royal shaft of the divorce proceedings.
My mom kept the nice house but my dad got kicked out and was living in a dive apartment in some shady complex. Eventually he got sick of it all and of working 1o hour days in a job he hated just to provide for a wife that didn’t want him anymore, so he moved to a small cabin in the middle of nowhere.
I only saw him when he would come back “home” for random events like my confirmation. Then, when puberty hit and my hormones were in full swing, I started to get that normal kid of a divorced couple anger. I asked him why he abandoned me.
His reply was he didn’t and I was free to visit any time as long as my mother said it was OK. I guess she had fought and won sole custody. My dad said it was some nasty legal trick, but I didn’t really get into it.
My mom fought me but she was so busy with her new boyfriend(s) that she eventually broke down and let me visit him during summer breaks. She said she didn’t like the idea but I got the feeling she was more than excited to get more free time.
I ended up taking a bus (actually 3 buses) to get out to near where he lived so they didn’t have to see each other. It was weird being out in the woods away from my friends, bike, and TV. It was weird being around the man that I only saw when someone died or I received a fake award.
Then, the weird went away when he went to work. He would get up early and go do some blue collar hands-on type of work, something to do with logging though not a lumberjack. I would go outside and explore, because there was nothing to do.
One day my dad asked if I wanted to split some logs for him while he was out. I never did it before, so he showed me how. He taught me how to swing this weird looking splitting axe called a leveraxe.
It was designed with safety in mind, so he was OK with me using it.
After a couple swings I got the hang of it. And, I loved it. It was so fun. I split logs until my hands were shaking.
The next day I was sore but I felt great. I didn’t seem to be so angry at everything anymore. I just wanted to go outside and split more logs.
To this day I still use the outdoors and everything you can do there, from splitting logs to hiking, as a way to cope with stress. The gym is great, but there’s nothing like nature and all the gifts she has to offer.