I have only actively disagreed with my parents twice in my entire life.
Both times my parents allowed me to “take the reins of the moment” the outcome has been both memorable and wonderful.
It happened again last week, this time my disagreement was with my Dad rather than my Mom.
Dad has turned my children and me into geocachers. This was the first time we went geocaching with Mom along and Dad had a big day of finding hidden treasures around Flagstaff all planned out. If you don’t know what geocaching is, the website gives a short definition like this: “Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt that's happening right now, all around you. There are 2,170,289 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide,” and then invites visitors to get more information here.
When we visit my parents in Flagstaff my Dad takes us on adventures where we hunt for hidden treasures tucked away in surprising places. Our first stop on this trip was to a chimney, standing on its own, in what was once a part of a place called Happy Jack’s – a logging camp that had been defunct for more than fifty years.
Dad meant for it to be a “practice cache” since he was the one who initially hid it, he couldn’t find it again, but the kids and I could use it as a sort of “warm up.”
When I do things in direct opposition to my parents I have to speak and act simultaneously or else I get scared.
After all, when I go on these adventures with Dad, my proper “don’t bug your father” behavior is so extreme I don’t even confess when I need to use the restroom, so hearing myself insist, “I still want to get out and find it,” while cracking open my door and putting my foot out took me by complete surprise.
The thing is, when someone takes control, it seems like the rest of the group falls into place. It is like the Improv rule of agreeing with whatever your scene partner does. If one of the geocaching team insists, the others just fall into the line of energy tossed out by the most insistent.
We weren’t expecting one of the campers to ask, “Are you Pinecone Joe?” after Katherine discovered the cache wedged into the chimney itself. Dad was so surprised to be asked about his geocaching identity his glee spread across his entire face. Turns out both the campers and their family members had been curious about the mysterious list of people’s names in an altoids box and purposefully hidden in the happy jack chimney, but didn’t imagine they would ever find the man who seemed to have buried the treasure and then deserted it.
Dad mentioned his delight at this connection throughout our visit to Flagstaff. It may have been the highlight of his week or month.
I could continue and talk about metaphors or launch into a writing prompt, but instead I’ll just sit with the memory of being brave enough to disagree, take action, and let Dad experience his highlight of the week while the rest of ours made our own memory and our own moment.
There is time for metaphors and life coaching and deep pondering tomorrow and the next today.
Today my smile at the memory is enough.
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