Life comes at you fast, I think as I sway in the rocking chair on the front porch of my cabin. There’s an hour before our Spiritquuest group will go rock climbing for our first activity at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. On my cabin porch I have no cell reception, and I didn’t bring any books because I intentionally wanted to experience real boredom. So I sit and stare at the cliff-face we are about to go climb and let my mind untangle. A random herd of goats roams begins bleating loudly right below my elevated porch. This place is weird, and it’s nurturing.
As cliché as it is to say, simple and beautiful moments like this are rare. They’re rare because of the myriad responsibilities always pulling on our brains, because of our cell phones and their invasive presence in our lives, which is also cliché to say, and they’re rare because life is always already happening. The seniors on this trip are visceralSly aware of this fact as they think about college majors and the ambiguous, looming pressure of choosing a career path, of having families of their own. As a society we really put so much pressure on students at this juncture to have their lives figured out in way we never did, and I’m honestly amazed at how much strength they have to handle it. They understand in a very visceral way that life often asks us to make choices before we feel ready to choose, which is on my mind because the seniors and I are about to be asked by Horseshoe Canyon adventure course facilitators to jump off of that distant cliff-face.
Courage requires fear
An hour later, as we’re all anxiously shuffling along the side of that mountain, I’m thinking about courage, because I am afraid, and I’m thinking about how you can’t have courage without fear. I’m amazed at the courage of these teenagers, and I’m satisfied with how our collective overcoming of fear is bringing us closer together as a group. At the end of the adventure course we reach the cliffside, and one by one we clip our carabiners into an auto-belay that kicks in a few seconds after you jump to slow your fall. And we jump off the mountain. I go last, and when I get to the bottom, everyone’s legs are shaking from the adrenaline. We feel alive.
That evening, as we debriefed the day around a campfire, I’m struck by how wonderful an opportunity like Spiritquuest really is. At this critical juncture in the lives of the youth, when their expectations of themselves are so high, when they are really feeling the weight of their own choices in the midst of uncertainty, they are encouraged to jump into the unknown without feeling fully ready, and they do it. Seriously—is there a better way to enter adulthood? Choice in the face of uncertainty is the fundamental tension of life, and I’m filled to brim with confidence that these young adults have everything they need to make the difficult and rewarding choices that life is inevitably placing into their hands.