My family used to own some property out in the San Juan Islands. We always called it The Island, but it had another name too. Sinclair Island.
Some of my best and bravest childhood adventures were out there. We were a group of seven cousins and there was always something to be up to! My oldest cousin, Robin, was my dearest and closest childhood friend. Even though we rarely saw each other outside of our Island adventures, our souls were knit together.
Hiking . . .
Sinclair is one of the smaller islands in the archipelago. Robin and I decided one summer that we would hike all the way around it. It seemed like a good idea to our ten-ish year old brains. Not really having precise ideas about the size of islands, and knowing it was one of the smaller ones, we set off.
Of course, we packed provisions, knowing it would probably take part of the day. A small red nylon bag with a couple glass jars of water and some tuna sandwiches. We may have even stolen a few Snickers Bars from Grammother’s candy stash.
Like real professional adventurists we left early in the morning before anyone else was awake. It was marvelous! Until we left the beachy part of the perimeter for the rocks. We were free climbing before anyone knew what that was. It was dangerous, it was. But we had no idea so we happily pressed on. Until even our kid brains realized it was madness, and we cut in and hiked cross country for a while.
Eventually we realized that hiking through the Island was something we always did and that we weren’t on our perimeter adventure anymore. We made our way back to the cabin. It had been a good many hours that we had been gone and when we arrived back, the grown-ups were furious! We got grounded from adventures for a few days. Way too long for explorers of our caliber.
To say we learned our lesson is up for debate. Leaving a note for the grown-ups before striking out for the day makes sense. But then there is the excitement and anticipation that easily overrule technicalities.
Rowing . . .
The following year, Robin and I had another spark of brilliance. Obviously, we couldn’t hike around the Island, but there was nothing stopping us from rowing around it! We had a trusty little dinghy that we were both proficient in maneuvering, and so, once again, provisions were packed and we struck out. I can’t, for the life of me, remember if we left a note or not that time.
We stayed close to shore. As Island kids we understood about dangerous currents, we weren’t stupid. We were, however, eleven-ish. A good few hours in, Robin had angry blisters on his hands. He was good about looking after me and so, established himself as the primary rower, to our detriment. Unfortunately, we got as far as the North Side before we had to stop and rest.
The story gets murky for me here. I have an echo of a memory of us pulling the dinghy ashore and hiking home. I don’t remember us rowing back, but maybe we did. I do, however, remember getting grounded. Again. For striking out on an adventure that had the grown-ups worried sick. Again. And also, for probably leaving the damn dinghy on the other side of the island.
I love those memories. I love it that children are meant to learn to navigate life on this planet through play. Those days at The Island with Robin were some epic days of play that I am learning from even still.
My Grown-Up Adventures
At my heart I am an adventurer. This means that there have been many times in my life that I’ve jumped into something wholeheartedly only to find myself stuck at a sheer rock face. Or discouraged with hands full of blisters. Sometimes I have found the tenacity to power through. Other times, I have to hike back home.
These days I’m learning to release my attachment to outcomes. The journey for the journey’s sake. This gives me a new sense of freedom to venture into exploits I previously lacked the courage for. It is fun and exciting and stressful and nerve-wracking. I totally get why the grown-ups grounded us! It can be a real nail-biter not knowing what’s going to happen. But also, it is reconnecting me to a purer, braver version of myself. The version that remembers to hope and dream. And as this version, I am finding myself a little astonished and very grateful that this wide world would open itself up to me the deeper I dare to wade in.
If you find yourself up against a stone wall, or crave adventure, or just need to remember how to hope and dream, let’s be friends~