The year I turned 9 was a significant year for me. I was entering 4th grade and really aware of the world around me. That summer I had received my first point and shoot 120mm camera. I remember the year at school as the year of the book report. I spent a lot of time in the library at Southmont. I think it was up on the third floor but not sure. That year I was obsessed with obtaining maps and information from every National Park. I was obsessed with one book in particular about John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. I remember reading Rachel Carson. But nothing held my attention more than that book about Muir and Ansel Adam’s pictures of Yosemite.
And then I got my first calculator and took my first gas tank apart much to the dismay of my father. It was the lawn mower and I wanted to know how it worked. I put the thing back together and had no doubt it would work, worked better than before. I learned I had an affinity for mechanics and love of technology. I was a gadget geek.
I remember a show on NBC called ‘Sierra’; a spin-off of my favorite show at the time and still is, ‘Emergency’. I loved the outdoors and can remember that a few years later, I walked home up the chicken path without my parents permission. But the kernel of adventure was born in my 9 year old mind because I know I pushed the limits of riding my bike farther than down the block. It was more around the block, down to the pond and back up our hill. Two years later I made that dream come true. I had finished sixth grade and felt mature enough to do anything. After all I was heading to middle school soon, I was practically an adult. I walked home and was grounded because you see it was more than five miles for an twelve year old through some woods and along a major road.
9 years old is the ‘threshold’ moment in my life when I crossed from one ordinary world into another. I was finding my footing. I was acquiring the skills, the tools and the knowledge to see me through a journey. I plastered pictures of Scotland and Australia up on my wall when other girls my age were pasting Donny Osmond and David Cassidy posters and fawning over Tiger Beat. Sister was playing Bay City Rollers on her new 45 record player and I was listening to the world outside my window. I snatched my brothers walkie-talkie set, intent on slipping out and sleeping under the large pine trees out back, alone and without telling a grown-up. Another grounding followed when I came in hungry at 10 pm, having missed dinner. I left my favorite blanket out under the trees and worried about it.
Life is a series of moments. Everyone has their own perception of reality. If we understand that perception, we can help those around us with their story as well as our own. Opportunity knocks at every step. You do not know who will walk through your life. Some of my better moments have been impromptu conversations on planes, trains, automobiles, and buses. Or just sitting on bench and waiting.