Inspiration, passion, focus – what drives you? How do you share that passion and focus with others? How do you plant seeds in those around you, particularly children? How do you encourage and share without totally “turning them off” to what you love?
The following is an excerpt of an essay written by Central College Student Bailey Anderson as part of her service learning project in her Nature Writing and Environmental Literature class. It’s a good read… and you can “feel” her gain the understanding of her father’s passion!
My worn copy of Life of Pi flies from my hands and onto the floor of my parents’ Hyundai. For a minute the inertia of my father’s unexpected brake on US 218 pulls my whole body forward. I hold onto the passenger’s seat in front of me to keep from being flung and jabbing my mother in the back with my knees. My father exclaims, “Look over there!”
Ever since I was little, my father has fearlessly slowed down on the highway to gesture toward deer escaping into a cornfield or wood, his eyes wide but completely focused on the creatures. I’ve never been quite sure where his intense love for deer came from, but I always assumed it was a byproduct of his love for hunting.
My father’s love for hunting was impossible to ignore: mounted deer heads above the stairwell with cold marble eyes; displays of antlers lining the walls of the basement; picture frames holding numerous photos of my father kneeling with his hair in various stages of age, grinning from underneath a blaze orange stocking cap behind a deer with captions like “Muzzle-loader 2002” and “Bow season 2004”. On Saturday mornings, it was natural to turn on Hannah Montana and find my father absent. “Did he go hunting today?” I’d ask my mother between bites of Fruity Pebbles, although I knew the answer already. Still, she didn’t even look up from her book as she shrugged and said “Yep. Won’t be back ‘til dark.”
I treated walking through the woods like a treasure hunt, my eyes always pointed toward the ground searching for the tracks of a deer. If I could have crawled through the mud to look for them, I would have… I squinted toward the ground, searching for what looked like two raindrops resting together, and if the deer was in a hurry, two droplets trailing behind them.
I learned what deer tracks looked like in day-camp, and dreamed of seeing a deer up close ever since. With a yellow raincoat swishing with every step I took and blue sneakers squishing into the thick mud, I ventured out to explore. Maybe today could be the day I would see one of those elusive creatures Dad loved so much.
When I finally found a hoof-print, I knelt down, careful not to get dirty, and put my face as close to the mud as I could without toppling over. “Deer tracks!” I called over my shoulder to my older sister, trailing behind me for once.