Finding Optimism

In order to live the life that I do, you need a good dose of optimism; a belief that another adventure will come your way, and so will the means to fund it.  Optimism was not something I was born with.  It came to me after a trip I took when I was 15 years old.

My earth science teacher had posters all over his classroom of people rock climbing or dog sledding, and at the bottom were always the words “Outward Bound.”  This was long before the internet existed, so it wasn’t like I could just Google those words.  I can’t recall how it was that I ended up getting an Outward Bound catalog in the mail.  But I remember mom asking if I was interested in doing it, and we looked through the catalog.  Not being into anything that required physical strength or stamina, I picked a sailing course.  Good thing there was no physical effort needed – the mental part of this trip turned out to be more than I thought I could have handled.

One of the first things we did upon being dropped off at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound school was put up our tents.  Without directions.  I couldn’t believe they would leave four teenagers to put up a tent with no guidance or instruction.  Surprisingly, we did it.  We then had to take out everything in our suitcases and stuff it into duffel bags we were given.  We were told to leave in the suitcases books, walkmans, make-up, and watches.  Next, it was on to a ropes course.  We went forty feet up in the air to walk between the trees.  On seeing the course, I didn’t think it would be too hard.  But once I was up there looking down, all I could think was “no way!”  But this was all part of the teambuilding exercise.  So there were 29 teenagers below me screaming encouragement and support.  Maybe I got through it only to shut them up.

The next morning we were woken early to take down our tents and get in vans to drive to our starting point.  On the dock, staring at our boats, I realized I somehow missed the part in the brochure where they said we’d be living on a 30 foot cabin-less boat with 14 other people.  What had I gotten myself into?  Just that morning a model-looking waif with an English accent asked me to look up her nose to see that there were no boogers.  Really?  This is what concerns English teenagers?  Who on earth did she think would be looking up her nose?  Turns out both her parents were models.  Perhaps this is something model parents teach their children.  I also found out that English girl was on this trip as a punishment for doing drugs in school.  Actually, I discovered only half of us had signed up for this trip voluntarily.  The other half were forced into it.  If I wanted to deal with troublesome teenagers for two weeks, I could have just stayed home with my little sister.  But here I was.

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