Friday, December 25, 2009

Dear Dad

I wonder sometimes how much of my personality and character come from you and mom. I think about the influence that you have had on my life, and the values that you have instilled in all of your children, but especially the ones that you have instilled in me. I do not think that I could have been blessed with a better set of parents. You and mom have modeled a good life for me.

You have taught me to value my relationship with God above all else, and to value my relationships with people after that. Each day as you study and apply the scripture, you set an example that I want to follow. Your critical analysis has taught me not to take things at face value, but to consider everything that I see, hear, or read in the light of reason, experience, and the things that I know to be true. You have also taught me that just because someone is wrong, it does not mean that it is my duty to correct them, a lesson that I am still learning. You have taught me the value of discipline and taking care of your body through careful eating and exercise.

Your accomplishments make me want to do great things. I am so proud every time that I tell people about your ultra marathons, the time you ran 100 miles, the time you ran down a rabbit, and the list goes on. I want to be like you. I want to know everything and to have done everything like you. I want to sail like you, and maintain my own home like you. I want to appreciate the outdoors as much as you do. I want to travel and learn for my entire life like you have done.

Thank you for teaching me to hunt and to shoot. Thank you for teaching me to travel. Thank you for teaching me to read everything and ask lots of questions (and follow up questions). Thank you for teaching me to have a good sense of humor (well, I don’t know how good it is ^_~ ). Thank you for teaching me to run, and helping me understand math and science. Thank you for trying to teach me about birds and plants. Thank you for giving me my first knife at the age of 5 (I miss that knife). Thank you for teaching me to make my own decisions and be responsible for those decisions. Thank you for teaching me that physical comfort is not the most important thing.

You have raised me from a child to a man, and that means so much to me. The best gift you ever gave me was telling me that I was a man, and that whatever decision I made would be a good one. The second best gift you ever gave me was your combat knife (that is my favorite possession).

I have too many fond memories of you to list them here (I guess that is a good thing), but I will mention a few of my favorites. I remember getting my first knife from you. I remember catching my first fish in yellow stone with you. I remember shooting my first deer at Mr. Wilsons with you (heart shot from a shooting house). I remember when we would go hunting off of the ground, and we would take turns sleeping. I remember running with you to get ready for my first season of Cross Country. I remember hunting for sharks teeth in Galveston with you. I remember when you took me to Costa Rica for the first time. I remember guiding the canoe at Tuscoba with you. I remember most of our hunting trips. I remember when I first started coming into your office in campus as a little kid, and then as a university student. I remember hiking barefoot across the Alaskan tundra with you. These are just a few of my favorites.

Basically what I am trying to say with this letter is that you are the best Dad ever and I really love you. Thank you for helping make me who I am today. Thank you for being the best Dad that anyone could hope for.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Fools These Mortals Be

As I am sure you have gathered from reading my blog, I am a little bit crazy. I make a habit of referring to myself as a schemer on a regular basis. About every two or three weeks I have some crazy new idea which almost never comes to pass, but which nevertheless manages to get me excited. This week my idea is to build a ship.

Now I know that sounds ridiculous. How am I going to build a ship with no experience and little money while sitting on a farm in Costa Rica? Before you write me off completely, let me tell you a little bit of my story.

Three years ago I told a friend of mine that after she graduated, I would build a boat and that we would sail together to Alaska. I built her a toy boat, and a bamboo raft, but I never kept my word to my friend. As I was sitting on the front porch of our farm house, looking at the canoe that my fellow missionary Joshua had made, I began to think about my friend back home. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could finally keep part of my promise by giving her a canoe that I had made? But how could I get a heavy wooden canoe back to Alabama?

I started thinking about myself paddling back to Alabama in a canoe. No, I would definitely need something bigger, and preferably something with sails. I thought about a larger outrigger canoe with sails, but then I imagined myself being carried out to sea in a tiny little craft, waves crashing over my head, no land in sight. I would definitely need something bigger than a canoe if I wanted to cross the Caribbean. It was then that I had the idea to build a ship. I wanted something small enough to be managed by one or two people, but large enough to travel safely in the sea. Almost immediately I started drawing up plans for my small sail boat. It would be about 30 ft. long, 10 ft wide in the middle, with living quarters below deck and triangle sails above.

I am not so unrealistic that I believe that I am going to succeed at building a seaworthy vessel, but every day I become more hopeful as my designs are refined. The biggest challenge that I face at the moment is determining if this is just a silly idea that I have for my own gratification, or if this adventure actually has a purpose. Is keeping a silly, half-joking promise to a friend sufficient justification for building a ship and having a great adventure, or is it just an excuse. Does keeping my promise mean anything to anyone other than me?