One of my favorite movies is Finding Forrester with Sean Connery and Rob Brown. Near the end of the movie, Connery’s character, William Forrester, is at Brown’s character Jamal Wallace’s prep school defending his writing. To explain a prior indiscretion, Forrester says, “I helped him find his own words by starting with some of mine”.
This is exactly what’s happening with me tonight! For a couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about how Zack’s overall happy and positive disposition became even more sunny and forward thinking once ski season kicked into high gear here in Tahoe. Just like with kids, once you find their core motivation and what makes them tick, their willingness to work hard sky rockets. Zack was already working really hard at his paper homework, word lists, and multiple tablet apps. We practiced phrases and writing but I was still doing the great majority of texting for him.
Ski season arrived in November and I was full time at Holm Construction. While I skied with Zack when I could (like the picture above, on my birthday), he preferred to ski every day and pretty quickly learned how to copy words from other people’s texts to use in his own so he could coordinate his own adventures. For example, this week he asked Truck or Jeep? in a text to figure out who would drive. Written by himself. It was an important detail and he found the spelling in prior texts to get his question answered. He was able to find his words from others’.
And this is where I am tonight. I was reading AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club. We receive Outdoors because we’re members of the AMC and we’re still members of the Appalachian Mountain Club (despite living and playing in the Sierras) because it is the organization we worked for when we met. 🙂 First I read an opinion piece called The Nature Cure about how the author and her fiance, who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, found happiness and peace through short canoe trips, evening hikes and backyard naps in their hammock. This really resonated with me.
Later in the magazine I read an article about Warrior Hike that includes research by a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University. Their study showed that outdoor adventures have a range of psychological, spiritual and physical benefits including increasing well-being and decreasing stress hormones. Additionally, “long term, vigorous exercise releases a protein called BDNF, which promotes growth of new synapses in the brain”. Aha! This confirmed everything I had seen happening with Zack’s disposition, motivation for writing, and progress in language reacquisition. A friend came over yesterday for the end of the Patriots’ loss and noted the leaps and bounds that Zack has made since she last saw him several months ago. These articles included the sentiments and science that we noticed but I hadn’t written yet. I needed others to help me find my own words.