There is no denying that days of COVID 19 have been filled with many disappointments and frustrations even for those of us lucky enough to remain healthy and safe.

Sometimes it is a challenge for any human to keep perspective and gratitude in the face of such interruption and uncertainty. However, we try to practice the pause to appreciate new opportunities instead of mourning losses.

Just last week, my Class of 2020 son, an avid outdoorsman, invited me on a 13.5 mile-long day-hike. I promptly said yes for me and Sailor, our golden. In general, I am a capable, strong, and independent type. My presence brings confidence and comfort to others. For years, my boys followed me, but over the last five years as they grow into young men, the leader has changed in many situations and on this day it was so clear that the more capable and confident was my eldest. At 6-feet tall, my Eagle Scout son is at peace in the great outdoors. He prepares for contingencies and then he truly enjoys the experience.

We started our day at 7:30 am with a light brekkie and loaded up with water, PBJs and oranges for our trail lunch. After hours of hiking a PBJ never tasted so good. The trail was a beautiful combination of dense forests and big views. We chatted and connected over the back country, what college may look like, and the state of the world in no particular order or with agenda. We continued along – Sailor at W’s knee and me a few paces back – for 3 hours until we emerged at a beautiful mountain lake with awe-inspiring views.

The grand scale of mountains, forests, and vistas helps put the human existence into perspective. I love how it dispels anxiety and worry by its sheer vastness. For hours, I trailed faithfully, just like Sailor, behind my son’s lead. He tried not to laugh at my questionable river crossings and showed patience when the hour-long steep incline slowed my pace. His leadership and abilities coupled with compassion made it easy for me to follow and learn.

My thoughts quickly spun on how the person leading you is integral to the overall experience, whether that be in nature, at work, or in everyday life. In this busy and chaotic world, we can often follow without much thought to whether the leader is qualified and well-matched to us and our goals. As time and focus are our most precious resources we benefit from intentionally choosing our guides, leaders, and gurus.

The constant in all our lives is change. Over the last 18 years, I went from the leader in all situations for my sons to now just as often the follower. I’ve recognized that I benefit from others’ expertise and experience so long as the leader is a good fit for my goals and beliefs.

My strong, confident, intelligent and compassionate son is a natural in the outdoors as his physical and mental toughness and experience make him an expert. However, you wouldn’t want to follow him on life management or parenting advice – at least not yet!

So, who do you follow? No, I don’t mean on social media. But in life. Who guides you to solve your problems and challenges? Who helps you to grow and reach your goals?

It matters. We all look to informal or formal guides to help us through. There is an overwhelming amount of guidance being offered now, and do you know who to choose?

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