Essay by Kyle Koyle
Sometimes I need to remember why I do things. I’m talking about the basics here: eating, breathing, sleeping. Now this isn’t going to be a reminiscent article about the struggles of life. This is an article about its depth. For example, think about the WHY of eating. We all perform this action because at some point during the day we become hungry. Our bodies require food to live. In short, we eat to stay alive. But why? Now this is where my opinion comes in, heavily. I say we eat to enable us the opportunity of what comes next. To keep us going for other less obvious necessities of life: laughter, work, wonder, friendship. From the standpoint of a parent, reasoning the WHY into any situation is parallel with the amount of effort required to make that situation successful.
Recently, my husband and I endeavored to take our three children on the scenic bike path that follows I-70 from Dotserro to Glenn Wood Springs [Colorado]. It’s about 16 miles right along the river and quite literally underneath I-70. This part of the interstate is highly scenic with narrow canyons, white water rapids and towering mountain tops. Now, let me preface the trip with the fact that my eldest child is 8 and a decent bike rider but hasn’t mastered the art of stopping your bike before getting off first, my 2nd child is terrified of riding a bike, and my 3rd child loves doing “tricks” on the back of our bike tag-along trailer — which may or may not involve adding a significant amount of instability to both parent and tag-alonger. In the weeks leading up to our esteemed weekend trip, I estimated 8 skinned knees, 4 skinned elbows, at least 20 random shin bruises, 12 complete melt downs, 3 out of control bike accidents that ended with at least one child in a ditch, about a bazillion inhaled gnats, 1 run in with a group of horses, and last but not least, hearing the phrase “I’m not getting back on!” 15 times. Needless to say, I asked myself more than once, WHY?
My husband and I have nothing to prove to any other family. We don’t seek out painful, impractical situations to put our children through. We thought this bike trip sounded, wait for it……..fun. Now playing video games is fun, having a picnic is fun, swimming is fun, reading is fun, the list can go on and on. Why did we pick biking 16 miles down a winding somewhat precarious bike path? It was not one of life’s basic necessities. Here is the humdinger. How could we get to the other necessities of life without it? Laughter, work, wonder, friendship. Eating doesn’t create the next moment anymore than breathing ensures you’ll get a chance to meet up with an old friend or laugh at joke. If we hadn’t created, with our own blood, sweat and tears, a chance to live, countless moments of living would have been lost.
We live in a society of fear. So many fears. If we only take care of our basic necessities, which I realize is a definite first-world privilege, will we eventually forget to ask the other “why”? Why push yourself, why pull others along, why explore, why learn, why try?
John Muir, the Scottish naturalist, father of the Sierra Club and world renown environmentalist put it very well, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.”
Now is your moment to remember why…