I started this post a month ago to recap our camping trip beneath Majestic Mount Shasta. I found it particularly calling to me today since it is the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Last night we sat around the dinner table we brought up the fact that today is was the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and we discussed what bravery is and what it meant that people, specifically the first responders, were willing to risk their lives to try and save the lives of so many on that day. We spent some time talking about what it means to be brave which in general is a very good discussion for my kids right now.
My wife found this John Muir quote about Mt. Shasta a few years back:
When I first caught site of it I was 50 miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since…
I think it embodies the way I want my children to think about bravery, that what lies beyond the difficult obstacle is far greater than staying in the status quo. Fear manifests itself in many ways and our children need to see us conquer our fear as well as have us help them conquer theirs. It means doing the difficult things like having an uncomfortable conversation with a spouse, co-worker, landlord, etc… It means doing the disgusting jobs that no one wants to do. It means taking risks that you would rather shy away from like learning a new skill, meeting new people, taking a job in a place where you have to start from scratch to develop your resources.
These are the things my wife and I are doing so that my kids see first that it is possible to conquer fear. We also help guide them through their fears. On our camping trip to Lake Siskiyou (right below Mt. Shasta) we walked every night to brush our teeth at the campground restrooms. My kids were very uncomfortable with walking in the dark and were insistent that we use the lantern we had brought. We never truly conquered this fear, but we did turn off the lights long enough to enjoy a spectacular meteor shower. Which was enough to give them an idea of what awaits them when they do conquer it.
One day I took both boys out on the front of a paddle board I had rented… Once we got out far enough in the lake both boys were a little nervous about swimming about the board. Rather than focus on the thing that scared them we decided to have a challenge to see who could knock the other off the paddle board… Before you knew it my boys were running and jumping off the board into the lake without a care in the world.
Now we are living just outside of Chicago… Conquering the fears of an unknown place, of meeting new people, and of a staircase in our new place that leads to rooms still a bit unfamiliar…
Today I can’t help but hope that as I help my children overcome their fears and learn to be brave, that I am helping them become the sort of people who are brave enough to race into a burning to save people they don’t know because they can and they are not conquered by fear.
9/11 – We Will Never Forget