Transitioning with Grace and Courage

My son graduated from college in April.  Like most parents, I am very proud.  I also feel a little stress.  What’s next?  How will it go for him?  Even good change brings uncertainty.

To celebrate and to commemorate our revised relationship as independent adults, Jonathan suggested that he take me and his dad rock climbing and wilderness camping, something he loves and we almost never do.   Too busy with graduation activities to give it much thought, I mindlessly answered, “Great!”  However, as the graduation dust cloud settled at the tiny Colorado airport and the last relative departed, I started wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Only Jonathan knew where we were going and what to expect when we got there.  As we drove over the pass toward our adventure, I found words for my anxiety, “Jonathan, you cheeky monkey, you’re totally in charge.  That’s quite a role reversal!”  He smiled, “Please feel free to tell me if you feel uncomfortable about anything at any point along the way and we can adjust.”

In fact, Jonathan had planned everything: the gear, the site, the activities, and the food.  Until we were on our way, I had unquestioningly put complete trust in him.  Now I wondered – would he be prepared?   Could he take care of me?   This may seem like a no-brainer, but understand that although I’ve enjoyed a smattering of camping over the years, I turn into an icicle at temperatures below 40 degrees unless swaddled in down. To top it off, I had never seen my son climb, nor did I know his experience level.  I had only rock climbed once, 13 years ago. Was I insane? Would I be okay, or would some hiker discover my cold, coyote-eaten remains in a remote Colorado canyon?

Actually, it was better than okay. It was spectacular.  Jonathan is an outstanding outdoorsman and a capable, hospitable guide. He was prepared to offer layer after layer of warm clothing to his chronically chilly mother and  provided a toasty sleeping bag (insulated to withstand zero degrees) and pitched a two-man tent for his dad and me.  (He slept in the open air, his preference.  Go figure.) Not only did he assemble the entire campsite (no official campgrounds or running water by the way), but he also built the fire, cooked a delicious meal for us, and performed admirably on his harmonica.    How could I ever doubt this kid?  He was an excellent, safe and patient rock-climbing teacher.  Even though I came off the rock a great deal on the first climb, I loved every minute of the adventure. I felt well cared for and safe. I also felt glad that I had trusted him.

On our final journey out of the canyon, heading back to civilization, Jonathan called my attention to an information board at the trail-head.  It read “Consuelo y Espiritu”, in English, “comfort and courage.”   What better summation of what I had just learned from my son? He had shown me that it is possible to face transition with grace, and even to enjoy it!  With sufficient preparation and trust,   there is comfort in knowing that we each have the ability to handle change if we have the courage to face it, even when we fall.

“Consuelo y espritu” to you and yours during your seasons of change.

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Date: Thursday, 12. May 2011 14:55
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Relationships, Self Actualization

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