Lessons From My Father

This father’s day, I chose to sit down and reflect upon my dad’s influence in my life.  What did he do to that helped shape me into who I am today, and why was it important? I catch all of the little nuances in my character that were picked up from him, but there are three main lessons that have stand out as part of who I am today.

Gear: Signature Camo Duck Cotton Hat | The Upland Jacket 2.0, Navy | The Mariners Overshirt, Distilled Indigo

The first and most important lesson from my father can be incorporated into every part of life. It is that “actions speak louder than words.” I know this is a cliché idiom that we’ve all heard more than enough times, but dad really drove the point home without actually saying the phrase. One year on father’s day, when I was in my late teens, I thought I would write my dad a letter letting him know all of the things about him that made him important to me. This was during a time when I was always trying to get out of the house to hang around with friends, devoting all of my time to anything but family and schooling, and I was subsequently getting poor grades. After reading the letter, my Dad came to my room and essentially told me it was nice, but do my actions show him that I really mean it? It was in this moment that I started learning how to balance my schooling, family, work, social life and hobbies in a way that reflected how I actually felt. The moral of this lesson was that you could know that you care, but the only way anyone else knows that you care is by your actions. This lesson is a constant work in progress, but always on my mind.

The second lesson from my father has probably gotten me the farthest. It is to work hard, and be self sufficient in your work.  I was the little kid that was dragged along to the hardware store, holding the flashlight in a crawlspace, digging fence posts, and mowing not only my lawn, but also every lawn within driving distance of my dad’s mower. I noticed at a young age that we didn’t hire people, my dad asked me for a hand and we did it together. If he didn’t know exactly how to do something, he figured it out. Three parts of his lesson in hard work that constantly motivate me are to do the job right the first time, do it yourself if you can, and if you don’t know how to do it you can learn by trying.

The third lesson from my father might be the most visible in my life, and the other two influence it. It is a deep love, respect and responsibility towards the outdoors. From the time I could walk, dad would take me on hikes. As soon as I was strong enough to draw a bow, dad taught me archery. Before I was old enough to hunt myself, dad took me along with him to see how he hunted.

Following his example, I learned to respect the outdoors, respect the wildlife, and to be conservation minded so that others will be able to share their love of the outdoors for generations to come. My appreciation for hunting, fishing, and the outdoors in general comes not only from being immersed in those things, but from the traditions and memories that go along with it.  Being included at hunting camp from very young age let me know I could be one of the guys, no longer a child. Getting up at 3AM to hike miles into the woods to sit and wait in the cold damp forest for the sun to rise during deer season, or laying in a cornfield when it’s -2 degrees outside under a blanket of cornstalks hiding me from the geese on the horizon are moments I can never forget.

These are memories that, at the time they happened, momentarily felt like hardship, but any discomfort was outweighed by seeing nature at a time of day when most others were sleeping, and enjoying a meal that was killed, cleaned, and cooked by my dad and me.

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