Life is nothing but a series of adventures; and it’s a good thing too. I’ve learned over the past several years of my life that it is not without those adventures and the challenges and new situations that they bring that we as people mature.
When I say “mature,” I’m not referring to that rather forced growing-up kind of development like moving out of the house or getting a job and driving to work every day. I’m referring to the situational exposure of one’s own individual core, when experiences shed the superficial, globalized, herding-induced shucks we have all called home at one time or another. When faced with adversity, the things that truly matter to us emerge, and areas of fuzzy thought become lucid as the waters of a mountain stream.
For that, I’ve set myself a course untraditional, and the subject of both disapproval and hearty encouragement. In lieu of a first semester at college, I’ve deferred to pursue and focus on my talents, interests, and habits—what I call writing, photography, and the outdoors. In the coming months, my car treads, boots, wading cleats, and tent pegs will cover ground from Maine to Florida, the Kennebec to the Keys. Selfish? Maybe. Irresponsible? Not if you can make it work. I call it reflective and stimulating.
My writings, both essays and news pieces, with occasional allusions to my adventures abroad, will continue to appear in these pages, as I foresee them to for a long time to come. Whether I am home or not, squirrel season still opens in my home state of Virginia, and I will be reporting. For those interested, updates on my experiences outside of Virginia, and whatever other media that results, will appear regularly on my blog, www.AdventuresAfield.blogspot.com, and on my more recently-developed website, www.MatthewReillyOutdoors.com.
Now this is not entirely a personal update (though I’d like to believe that anyone still reading does take interest!). With my mind in this stage of my life hyper-focused on the issue of college and a degree and future jobs and careers, I’ve come to notice, if only in passing instances in local sporting goods shops or boat ramps, people who have seemingly lost the dogged fervor for the outdoors that they once held. I don’t pretend to hold the answers, or claim to hold mature insight, and I am by no means attempting to judge, but it seems a shame that so many put passions on hold for the more secure and “realistic” paths that consume their time. Life is too short not to live a deliberate life striving for dreams and goals and not settling for the average. Part of my gap semester decision was fear of that trap and moving too quickly into it.
So if this column is too out of character, I apologize; and I hope that I have not appeared at all big-headed to any. I will keep it brief and singular. But I hope that readers will take from this inspiration to find exodus in nature and the sporting life, and that, in doing so, it will cleanse their eyes and soul and help those with the need to slow down and realize what it is that is important to them, be it the outdoors, or something altogether unrelated. I suppose that is what I write for each and every week.
I will keep you posted on my findings. I hope that you will do the same.□