If you’ve been following our adventure over on www.TraverseAdventures.com this week as we’ve traveled from DFW on Monday to Marquette, Michigan on Wednesday, you’ll know that we’ve been having a ball, but what’s just as important, my girls and I are connecting in a new and special way, and an added benefit, we’re now growing closer to my dad, who has been with us on the journey the past two days.
Safe v. Unsafe
We’ve also had a couple of rules this trip, the biggest one, we’re using “Safe words” and “Safe practices” and keeping things, emotions, words, and practices that would not be emotionally uplifting or “safe” from joining us on the trip. And the contrast in the two concepts has been eye-opening. Now sisters, particularly twin sisters who have been competitive since even before birth (Reagan, the older one by seven minutes, had been Baby B up until about 24 hours before birth. She shoved Haley out of the way then and largely has been doing it ever since.) that gets to be a little challenging at times, but we’re really handling it quite well.
That’s also meant we’ve cut our contact with Ex1 down considerably and haven’t even bothered to even think much about Ex2. For as books about “Safe People,” “Safe Words,” and “Safe Emotions” clearly have pointed out to me how they fall into none of the three categories whatsoever, and the more they spew “Unsafe words, emotions, etc,” well, I find that I tend to respond in emotional ways that are “unsafe,” too. (Now when I say that, I don’t mean that in a physical sense. I mean that purely in the sense that I stoop to their levels and that’s something I’m really trying to correct in my life.)
Safe. It’s been such a more peaceful way to live as I seek to find new friends, new practices, and new emotions that all are what a counselor, psychiatrist, etc would deem “safe.” Putting the abusive criticisms, the irrational behavior, the anger, the anxieties of others behind me has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Just getting finally to the point where I brought myself to realize, “what I’m enduring isn’t normal,” has been one of the healthiest things I’ve ever accomplished. Safe. Safe. Safe.
In 1976, my dad bought 40 acres of land here in Northern Michigan. It was out in the middle of nowhere then and it remains in the middle of nowhere today. Once, before we were transferred from KI Sawyer AFB in 1978 out to Castle AFB in the San Juaquin Valley of California, dad brought myself and my three brothers out the the land to shoot. I remember that day vividly and have longed to return up here since we moved away so long ago.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been wanting to bring the girls up here, but because of the marriage I was in, that was just impossible. Now, thanks to the generosity of Chevy and GM, they’ve loaned me a red jewel 2010 Chevrolet Traverse for a week and a half and we’ve come north in it. (You can read more about that over on TraverseAdventures.com.)
So today, we brought my three girls, Chandler, 13, and the twins, who will be 11 next month, out to the land. Back in 1976 there’s no way I could have even dreamed that 34 years later I’d be bringing my own daughters here. And today, we brought guns; a .22 and dad’s revolver which shoots .357 and .38 shells.
Now hiking from the car into the heart of our land, the girls got apprehensive. All that excitement about going to the land and shooting guns got eclipsed by, “you mean there really are bears out here?” “We saw that red fox run across the road a few miles away. Are there more of them? Are they going to get us?”
And then when we got to the camp itself and it got time to shoot, there was a clear apprehension among the three of them. Finally, Reagan, (remember above, the aggressive/competitive one who pushes her sisters out of the way?) stepped forward once again. Haley, had decided to go first and then was afraid of the sounds, holding the weapon, and then the recoil, which if you know anything about a .22, there isn’t one.
And so the shooting began. Reagan, with my dad helping support the gun, and even her anxious during the first clip of five shots, still wasn’t quite sure of it all. But after the second or third shot ….
Then followed Chandler, my 13-year-old. Her new motto is, “Hi, my name is Chandler. Chandler knows how to shoot a gun.” [And you know, her being 13 and beautiful, I don’t think I’m all that much bothered in her having that as a motto, particularly around boys. 🙂 ]
And then Haley jumped to it. In all, I’d say that each daughter shot the .22 about 10 rotations. Each time, their confidence, aim and excitement grew. And I don’t mean just about shooting guns. I mean about growing up and being strong, safe women.
By the time we walked away from our land, and there were protests as we did, (though Chandler was clinging to the fact that she only had one or two bars on her iPhone) all of them, and even Chandler, had been converted. They now understood why their dad always tells them that this was one of the greatest places on earth to be a boy.
And as we stood/sat/shot there in the woods, the trees were blowing in the winds. The rush across the leaves was like a full symphony. The temperature was about 64 degrees and the sun was shining. And in all of that, I heard the whispers of time, the pains from the wounds of my failed relationships, rushing away from me as though the sounds of the leaves were bathing me in the comfort of a life I once knew. And in that sound, too, was the sound of a new time of life for my three girls. They looked different as they walked back to the Traverse.
Before we left, each of them was holding the .22 on their own. They were aiming on their own. And each of them was hitting the target a good 20 paces away.
Today was a day of safety. Dad taught them gun safety. The girls gained new confidence in themselves. And they learned to be free of the daily grinds of a big city and to find the comforts in the beauty of nature.
There are a dozen other points I could make about today, and thanks to this week-long trip from Chevrolet, I’ll have more adventures to write about tomorrow and the next day. But I’m exhausted at the moment from the emotions, the safe ones, of today’s adventures. The girls are asleep, no doubt dreaming of being marksmen and adventure seekers in the trails and woods of Northern Michigan; just as their dad did almost 35 years ago.
I don’t know what all we’ll wind up doing tomorrow. Laughing White Fish Falls? Sugar Loaf Mountain? We’ve still not all been to Presque Isle. It doesn’t matter. Each day this week has been more adventuresome than the one before it and each has been just as amazing and memorable.
For all the things my girls will endure as they grow older into their teens and then into adulthood, today is one of those times that will forever remain etched into their memories, but as importantly, it’s now a part of their fabric of life. That makes me so proud for them, and today, as they conquered their fears and stepped forward with more and more gusto as the morning progressed, I grew more and more proud of them for as their dad, and as my dad did me, and now even to his own grand daughters, instilled a new excitement for life in them and no matter what happens, no one shall be able to take that away.
I end this post with a photo, which if you look at the one above leading into the woods, and compare it to the one leading out, I don’t know if you can see it, but I see three very strong and proud daughters.