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Topic: Life enlightening experiencesWhat were yours?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 11:47 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm sure all of us have had experiences that thaught us a lot, revealed things we might have never known otherwise or been a significant factor in the way we simply viewed the world.  I know for me, it was my youthful (early 20s) days of extensive  hitchhiking around the country that taught me so much about people and life.  Besides reaffirming my faith in my fellow man (something I could use an reaffirmation of right now) I learned that all of us have our prejudices and that even if you come across an extremely bigoted individual, as long as you aren't among the particular group they have it in for, they can be pretty decent folks.  How about you?  What experiences have been particularly meaningful in that they played a significant role in shaping how you view the world?  Let's leave out the obvious experiences such as romance, marriage and raising children that most of us would put on the top of the list. Something a little less common place perhaps.  

Just wondering.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 12:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd say solo backpacking trips have taught me a lot.  And by solo, I mean I didn't see anyone else for at least a day or two.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 12:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One day, mom took my brother and me on a bus ride, and when the bus passed through the slum part of town, she told us we would live like this if we didn't study hard and get good grades -- she wasn't going to keep providing for us.  I was in Kindergarten!!  :angry:

And we both did well in school, got good jobs, and were avid savers.  :O


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 12:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Most recently, working with Terminally Ill children has completely changed my view of life...again. I am now reminded regularly of what is truly important in life which helps me to focus on more important things and gives me motivation to help others.

When I was 20 years old, nearing death from alcohol and drugs and a counselor telling me, "Life isn't fair" and I finally understood (listened) to what he was saying.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 1:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Going up to Colorado on a ski trip and seeing winter backpackers (backcountry skiers?) set up a yellow mountaineering tent at night in an empty meadow nearby.   Why spend my hard earned dinero on a shared hotel room complete with everyone's mutts when there's no party? Had to get up early the next AM to ski.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 3:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A couple - First, moving away from home and to a different part of the country.  Initially 500 miles from where I grew up, and then later 2400 miles.  Both experiences moved me progressively further away from the comfort and familiarity of everything I knew, to places where no one knew you at all.  Learning my way without the comfort and safety of family and friends was a big one for me.

Second was my first trip to Alaska about 10 years ago.  It put my life on a different course, It was also the first time I ever experienced, and learned to understand, what 'wilderness' really was.  In various jobs and travels it put me in a bunch of situations I had never been in before - being alone for several days at a time, enduring supremely inhospitable conditions, and some amazing lifetime memories - people, places, and wildlife.  It sparked a passion for exploring the state and making a point to go up each year and go someplace different.  After 10 years I still feel like I've barely made a dent.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 4:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Three things come immediately to mind:

- attending boarding school with kids from all over the state, from all kinds of backgrounds

- working on a Smithsonian field station in Belize

- taking care of a terminally ill spouse and meeting lots of other people having a similar experience; this more than anything taught me who my friends were, on whom I could rely, who I could trust, and what I was capable of.  I don't want to do it again and wouldn't wish it on anyone, unlike the two experiences above.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 6:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As a young man being a puny pawn in a scary WAR especially while overseas in the Third World.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 7:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Backpacking through Europe at 19 (pre-internet or cell phone).    In many way, similar to wilderness backpacking - both teach you to be self-sufficient.

Coming out at 22.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 9:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I often think back to my dream, where everything was going really terrible, but it all worked out fantastic in the end. If I feel pessimistic I remember and I figure it'll all work out!

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 11:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

At 19 I went to work for a women who managed to undo much of the damage that my bigoted, narrow minded parents had done.  Thank goodness!


At 29 I finally found a way to go to college.  I had two young sons and still managed to maintain a 3.8 gpa.  

Allowing myself to walk away from toxic people even when they are related.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 11:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Working as a chaplin, I came to understand there is really nothing we can say or do to help other people through a life crisis.  Nothing!  All we can do is make ourselves available to be presemt to them.  What they do with that is up to them.

Another occupation was pastoring a church.  There I learned that there is no way for one individual to know what is in the heart/mind of another.  We may think we have ideas but we can never know for sure.  I am no longer shocked by any revelation about other people, no matter how strange it may seem to be.  So, though I might say I see no indication in a person's life to indicate this or that, I can not say it is an impossibility.  

In those two capacities, as pastor and chaplin, I saw the most noble and ignoble states of human beings.  I could tell some stories but you'll have to ply me with whisky to get them out of me ... please!  Anyway, I'm just glad I came to my senses and became an atheist.

Rumi

PS:  The Grand Canyon trip several years back with the death of a hiking partner sobered me right up.  If a hiking partner dieing right before your eyes doesn't sober you up, nothing will.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 12:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't know if I would call it enlightenment, but growing up in a mixed race family in the late sixties, early seventies in Richmond, VA had a profound effect on me. (Or is it affect? I have a hard time with those two words.)  :)  I guess the biggest thing that that experience taught me (even to this day) is that there are a lot more a-holes in this world than it needs. And for that I am sad.  :(
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 2:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

More than 20 years ago a woman did something that ruined my career - a field of work I had wanted to do my entire life and had worked hard to attain.  She did it out of spite and really gained nothing from it except to hurt me, but I lost everything I had ever wanted.  I was devastated and went into a severe depression.  After a long time, I recovered, but it took so much from me (and my family) that it was really life-altering.  

I decided during that period of time that nothing, absolutely nothing (short of the loss of my husband or daughter) would ever hurt me or take so much from me again.  I meant that with every fiber of my being - nothing anyone could ever do would hurt me that much again.  I've been through some other tough situations since, but so far, it's been a truth I've held on to.  I'm facing a "tough" one now, but I'm still standing.

I think we all will have a hurt like that some time during our lives, but once you get through it, you have the opportunity to become stronger for it.  I have, and I feel fortunate to know that my "awful" something is past, and I probably won't have to do it again.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 5:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I can't think of anything right now that has been anywhere near as enlightening more than giving birth and watching my son grow this past year.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 10:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tarol @ Jan. 29 2013, 5:21 am)
QUOTE
I can't think of anything right now that has been anywhere near as enlightening more than giving birth and watching my son grow this past year.

O.k. you broke the rules. But I'm betting nobody minds.



I was driving the wife & 2 small kids from Texas to California in a van circa 1992. I gave us a "whole extra day" to see Colorado, which was spent driving on hwy 160 most of the day and a quick trip to Mesa Verde. I knew I'd missed all the good stuff.

Then we stopped by the Grand Canyon for a picnic on the rim. I saw people pulling backpacks out of their trunks and heading down. I thought, "That's the way to really see this place."

The next day we stopped at Zion for a picnic in the canyon. I saw people pulling backpacks out of their trunks and heading up. I thought, "That's the way to really see this place."

And thus, a backpacker was born.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 10:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not enlighting I dont think, because I descovered at an early age about folks, but something I did that I very much have enjoyed is this; at 48 yo, with Betty gone (RIP) the 3 girls grown and married, and 20 years of working a job and farming in the Ozarks, I got a job in LV, packed up and moved out without any contacts, I knew no one and really had never given LV a thought, it was just 'that gamblin, whorin, place in Nevada'

I had a Nissan Frontier that I outfitted with a camper shell, 5.5'x6'x3.5', put in a stove, ice chest, 20"x6' bunk and shelving, then live in the foothills of Mount Charleston/Angel peak for 3 1/2 years, moving up the mountain the summer, then coming lower when it snowed.

It was an interresting time. I have know become civilized again, within 4 walls.
I will try to post a pic of the winter camp site. OK, I have no idea how to do that..so..Ill work on that..


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 11:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I loaded a pic, it did its thing, but where did the post go?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 11:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Ginseng @ Jan. 29 2013, 8:02 am)
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I loaded a pic, it did its thing, but where did the post go?

http://forums.backpacker.com/cgi-bin....1144679

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 11:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Jan. 29 2013, 11:06 am)
QUOTE

(Ginseng @ Jan. 29 2013, 8:02 am)
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I loaded a pic, it did its thing, but where did the post go?

http://forums.backpacker.com/cgi-bin....1144679

Thank you,

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 11:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ok resized it 75%... too big it says...50%?

Attached Image
Attached Image

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 1:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Two things, mostly.

First, being a 21-year-old engineering grad at the dot-com bust, I took a teaching job at a city high-school in Baton Rouge, LA.  An all-white shiny new teacher in an all-black inner-city school in the South.  It was a trial by fire my first year, but I grew as much then as any other time in my adult life.  It opened up my mind in ways I never would have imagined.  My love of teaching was born then, and hasn't dwindled.

At 24 I took a month-long backpacking trip through Olympic NP (31-days).  The last 16 days was a long solo, mostly off-trail leg up the Queets Valley and over the Bailey Range.  It was a big leg to bite off.  I nearly didn't make it out.  It wore me to the bones: physically, mentally and emotionally.  I came out a changed man.  Much of my life has been shaped since due to that experience.  (I really wish I'd waited to originally get married until after that trip, but that's another story altogether.)

Both experiences have helped define all my life decisions since (or at least helped frame them in the broader perspective), for the better.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 1:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Spending several months in Rivers State Nigeria, what was called Biafra back in the old days. I thought I had grown up poor, but seeing how people have to live there made me gratefull for all the things I have in my life.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 2:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

At 17 years old I enlisted in the Coast Guard and my 150lb honors student self was sent to a buoy tender.  I learned then how very little I knew and that if I was going to succeed in this world being book smart and having a smart mouth wasn't going to get me very far.

In 2008, my mother died.  In 2009, by favorite uncle died and a month later I found out that my wife was trying to cheat on me.  Despite my best efforts, she left 4 months later and I became the single father to a 2 year old daughter. In 2010 I met Amy, she was the woman of my dreams and we fell madly, deliriously in love.  She baptized me On January 16, 2011 and agreed to be my wife a month later.  On April 29th at 2pm, she sobbed as she called off our wedding 22 hours from the alter.  In the hell of the next 5 months, I never really did get an answer as to why or what happened.  My world was decimated and all I had was my Faith and a little girl that needed me very badly.  She had told me we were done forever and my world was a blur of confusion, doubt and pain.  I hated life and if there'd been a way to entrust my little girl to someone else, I'd have probably found myself a place in this world where embittered people kill and are killed and been happy for the chance.

My little girl needed me though.  My princess, my Rebecca demanded that I honor the commitment I'd made with the first words I'd ever said to her, "Hi Becky, I'm your Daddy."  Those simple, stupid words were a contract sealed in blood and no matter how much I wanted to come apart, I couldn't.  That sweet, innocent, brilliant and beautiful little girl needed her daddy because every other person that should have been there for her was not.  I couldn't collapse no matter how much I wanted to.  I dug in.  I leaned on my friends, my family and the faith Amy had led me to and I got through.

I earned new scars that I will never forget and in time I found a new love in a very old, familiar place when I dated and then married Tara, whom I've known since we were six.  A few weeks ago I learned that just about 3 months after my poor, terrified of commitment Amy had broken up with me, she'd become pregnant by her new boyfriend.  It stung for a bit as I let the old "what if" come by, but I leaned on Faith, and Tara and friends and little Becky and I remembered what I'd come through.  I wish her much love and happiness with her baby boy.

Amy taught me a lot.  She taught me about selfless love and she taught me that fear will destroy lives.  She taught me about real pain and led me to the Faith that allowed me to come sane through them.  She helped me to see that relying on my own self exclusively was a losing prospect, but that through it all I could keep moving and keep breathing.  For her time with me, I am a better man for it.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 2:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Many of these stories are inspirational, and I really enjoy reading the different ways in which life can provide meaning, learning opportunities, and for some, a new professional/personal trajectory in life.

But I can't help to think, I haven't been so lucky as to have had that watershed moment.   I have had plenty of challenges in life, and many joyous occasions.  But nothing I can place my finger on as one of those enlightening or life changing events (although I did almost drown as a teen - and now generally steer clear of water over my head, haha).

Then I thought about it some more. I think that so far, my "life enlightening experience" is to be lucky enough to be the oldest of 10 children.  It's at the very core of who I am, and I love telling folks about the size of my family.  It's a truly unique experience (by today's family-size standards) that has given me a perspective on life I might not have ever had.  It's shaped my very being, and has inspired me to be a positive role model for my younger siblings.  I feel I truly owe some of the successes I've been lucky enough to experience, to the fact that I want my siblings to see that hard work, a positive attitude, and generally caring for your common man (and woman) will lead to many positive moments in their own lives.

So after all, maybe I've been living that moment my whole life.  Then again, maybe my moment has yet to come.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 3:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I lost my parents to separate circumstnaces when I when I was 7 42 years ago. The unconditional love and support my Uncle gave me and my Aunt continues to be the driving force in how I treat everyone that doesn't have negative consequences coming from me.

Semester abroad Junior year of High School was an eye opener to say the least. Short trip then to a horrible part of the world makes me grateful for each day I have.

Loosing a girlfriend to a drunk driver at a young age certainly made me cynical, but I try to grow each and every day however much of an opinionated SOB I can be.


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(EastieTrekker @ Jan. 29 2013, 11:55 am)
QUOTE
But I can't help to think, I haven't been so lucky as to have had that watershed moment.   I have had plenty of challenges in life, and many joyous occasions.  But nothing I can place my finger on as one of those enlightening or life changing events (although I did almost drown as a teen - and now generally steer clear of water over my head, haha).

Each of us is unique and have special experiences.  But we also share a commonality of experiences.  We all know life, death, tragedy, victory, joy, sadness, heartbrake, etc.  It is not our experiences which make us who we are, but rather our personality reacts and we discover truths through our daily lives.  I don't want to discount the effects of our experiences on shaping our inner self, but our reactions to our experiences are just as important.

I am 60 yo now.  I look back at when I was 25, 30, 40, and even 50, and realize just how much clearer life is to me now than then.  I suppose when I am 80 yo I will see how much I have grown since being a young 60 yo.  hahaha

Rumi


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 4:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I can't point at any watershed experiences that changed my life suddenly, but I can think of several that are part of what made me who I am today.

First, a couple of things, one intentional and one pure luck that led to me being the backpacker I'd dreamed about being as a kid.  One was my post-BA year abroad, where I not only learned that it's better to be short of cash in the US than to be a servant in a truly rich country (I sometimes fear we are falling into that same mentality that looks on people who serve us as somehow less.  I very much disliked being condescended to because I was an employee of rich people), but also traveled alone and learned a bit of self-reliance and self-confidence (both rather lacking naturally).

Then, when I came back and started grad school, I got really lucky.  I moved into a shared house, and a month later a new housemate moved on.  A guy who made a practice of quitting work periodically to go on long hikes, and who considered a weekend wasted if he wasn't out hiking.  He rapidly became a brother to me, and he and his set of friends gave me the chances I needed to learn to backpack.  AFter 3 years, I did a two-week solo from Canada to Highway 2 in Washington (about 200 miles).  

Being so hooked on backpacking changed many things, including the sort of man I looked for (and finally found) to marry, and what my priorities are.

I have another experience that will never leave me, a few hours of coming close to the worst that can happen to a parent.  But while I will never forget, I don't know that it changed me.  I have worked hard (and successfully, I think) to prevent it from making me a more protective parent.

Ten years of graduate school did some things to me, too.  I know it took a very long time to unlearn the bad writing they taught me and learn to write again in ways that people want to read :D


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 7:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(RebeccaD @ Jan. 29 2013, 2:57 pm)
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Ten years of graduate school did some things to me, too.  I know it took a very long time to unlearn the bad writing they taught me and learn to write again in ways that people want to read :D

:laugh:   I'm still struggling at learning how to write poorly.

(I.e. in such formal academic prose that no one outside of a select few people in the world would have any desire at all to read it, lol.)


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 29 2013, 7:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(RumiDude @ Jan. 28 2013, 11:59 pm)
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Working as a chaplin, I came to understand there is really nothing we can say or do to help other people through a life crisis.  Nothing!  All we can do is make ourselves available to be presemt to them.  What they do with that is up to them.

Another occupation was pastoring a church.  There I learned that there is no way for one individual to know what is in the heart/mind of another.  We may think we have ideas but we can never know for sure.  I am no longer shocked by any revelation about other people, no matter how strange it may seem to be.  So, though I might say I see no indication in a person's life to indicate this or that, I can not say it is an impossibility.  

In those two capacities, as pastor and chaplin, I saw the most noble and ignoble states of human beings.  I could tell some stories but you'll have to ply me with whisky to get them out of me ... please!  Anyway, I'm just glad I came to my senses and became an atheist.

Rumi

PS:  The Grand Canyon trip several years back with the death of a hiking partner sobered me right up.  If a hiking partner dieing right before your eyes doesn't sober you up, nothing will.

Thanks for sharing. I find your history and contemporary status interesting.

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