“Mom, I feel so bad for you.”
“You must have been so bored during your childhood years with no internet or cable.”
This was a conversation between my mom and me over dinner six months ago. Six months ago, I had just heard about the Congressional Award and decided to apply for the award. This award requires the completion of four different components. One of these components caused me the greatest stress. This was the exploration or expedition section.
I tend to leap on the chair to run away from an ant. Now I had to spend an overnight trip surrounded by bugs and all kinds of relatives of ants.
As a city girl, my idea of exploring nature was going to Central Park for a picnic. I would have preferred looking at pictures of insects and bugs on the internet. But of course a stroll through Central Park and online pictures is not sufficient for completing the requirements.
Therefore, I planned a hiking trip for my family in upstate New York. I spent hours reading about all the precautions that needed to be taken in the wilderness. I packed the essential equipment in case of emergency such as a first aid kit, a compass, and a pocket knife. I felt like Meriwether Lewis mapping out unsettled grounds.
When we arrived at the hiking site, I could not help gawking at the mountain that was taller than the skyscrapers in New York City. Reluctant to completely let go of my comfort zone, I had packed my ipod and cell phone along with my running sneakers, water, and a map. I put on my headphones on and headed into the woods trailing behind my mother. I entered the forest like a soldier walking into a battlefield knowing he was going to die.
I jumped every time I felt something on my arms, afraid of getting bit by a bug. I thought every plant I saw was poison ivy so I tried to make sure I did not touch anything because I remembered reading a book about how dangerous poison ivy was.
About one mile later, my brother ran off to take pictures of a nearby stream. Curious, I took off my headphones to hear the sound of the water flowing. Instead, I screamed when I heard the sound of a bee buzz right by my ear. Then I heard the plop as my ipod fall into the stream. This seemed like more than I could take. I just wanted to finish this trip as fast as possible.
After the first mile, I began to look around because my music was gone and there was no phone service in the forest. The birds were chirping what seemed like mating songs. The sound of water crashing into the rocks was perfect for meditation. There were red mushrooms the size of my arm. I climbed over rocks the size of my apartment building just like when I was younger, before the internet took over my life. I realized I had missed the things that were truly valuable.
When I came back home, I did not go straight for the computer. Instead, I picked up The Razor’s Edge by Maugham, a book I have been meaning to read for some time. On morning train rides, I worked on the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper.
Two days after the hiking trip, I said to my mother over dinner,
“You know mom, you are so lucky.”
“You got to have so much fun when you were a child.”
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