May 21, 2015

Carrying on a Legacy

I think I got my adventurous spirit from my father.

While my mother was an agoraphobe (a diagnosis I gave to her after seeing a character with similar behaviors on a soap opera), my father actually liked to go out and do stuff – he was usually just working too much and too hard to spend any time recreating.

But there were those precious times when he could take some vacation days from the bank and go to the Great New York State Fair or Sylvan Beach or Chittenango Falls for a picnic, just a few hours away from everyday life. And then there were the summer vacations when we actually got to leave Syracuse and go somewhere else.

Somehow, he chose Lake Placid in the Adirondacks as our family vacation spot – but I didn't care where it was, as long as it was somewhere else. I never much appreciated his attempts at entertaining and educating us, without the aid of the internet, relying only on travel brochures and maps from AAA. He brought me and my sister to the top of Whiteface Mountain, despite our little hatchback's inability to handle the steep grade. He planned excursions to Fort Ticonderoga and High Falls Gorge and Howe Caverns and probably many other places I have no memory of photographs of.

But these visits instilled in me a sense of wonder and adventure – a curiosity to explore the world around me. I was so overprotected and home-bound by my mother, I used to complain that I "had no life" as a teenager – which was true: the only things I ever learned about the world were from film and television. But Dad liked to go places, when he could. And he spent a lot of time poring over those guides in order to plan an entertaining and informative vacation for all of us.

My mother, of course, would have none of it. And whatever we saw, we saw from afar. There was no standing under the waterfall. There was no getting in the river. There was no climbing the gorge.

But at least we got to see it.

I love my father, but I can't have him in my life right now. So I'm glad to know I've still got a piece of him with me, and am carrying on a tradition that was instilled in me very early on.

So now I find myself planning events for others, channeling the spirit of my father, appreciating all the work he did for us as kids, which I didn't appreciate at the time. Education is wasted on the young.

How does one become – or stay – curious? How does one overcome a restrictive upbringing, and venture forth into unknown lands? How does one learn to go outside of their comfort zone when it's so...uncomfortable?

The only way to know is to try.

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