When I was a youngin’ my Dad used to take my brother and I on hikes through the trails and forests of Washington state. Every time we’d embark for the great outdoors, he’d tell us upon arrival, “Remember, if you get lost, hug a tree.”
Fortunately, I never had to take that advice, like a good and obedient oldest child, I stayed within sight/earshot of my pops and my brother, and any other family member or friend who may have joined along. I remember once asking him why, and he explained, ‘Well, if you’re wandering around looking for me, and I’m wandering around looking for you… we might not find each other. If you stay put, you’ll be found.”
Now, my Dad did not invent this concept. It was actually created in 1981 by a couple of guys, and now is maintained by the National Association for Search and Rescue. Ab Taylor, a Border Patrol agent and renowned tracker, and Tom Jacobs, a free-lance writer and photographer, created the program after failing to find a 9 year old who went missing while hiking with his family outside of San Diego. They developed an educational program designed to teach children, ages 5-12, very basic principles for staying safe in the wilderness. The program derives its name from its primary message: If you are lost, stay put-hug a tree-until help arrives.
The concept of staying put is something, that while I completely understood at age 7/8, had eluded me in adulthood. For many years (including time that I have written on this blog) I was wandering. Part of it was the thirst for the unknown. I absolutely love traveling and experiencing new things. And I used that as my excuse. But truth be told, I was escaping.
I wanted to seem empowered. Like, look at me, how independent I am! And, my how independent I had become. Independent as in fully alone. SOLO. A lot. And what is funny, is that by traveling, I was actually trying to escape from feeling alone. Hehe, why not go travel alone in a foreign country to escape feeling alone? At least then I had an excuse for why I was alone. I was lost – on purpose.
My dating life was very much reflective of this as well. I never sat still to allow anyone to find me. I was off dating different men, as the man I truly loved was unavailable, so I too became unavailable (dun dun dun… ). Oh yes, when you have two people wandering around the woods, looking for each other… as Dad says, we might not find one another.
Things are a little different now. I’ve had a taste of the world, and loved it. I will still travel, but I choose now to travel with people I want to spend time with. Not my own anymore. I’ve had plenty of that. I’m standing still for a while, hugging a tree, allowing myself to be found by those who have been looking for me all this time. And while it makes me a little nervous, this waiting, giving up the control of me trying to find him, just standing still and being patient… I realize am now ready to be found. I’ll just be here, hugging this tree. 🙂