A lesson on living

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 21:33

When he was 72 years old, Dick Griffith spent 53 days walking and skiing 550 miles across the Arctic. When asked recently why he would risk extreme temperatures, polar bears, unstable sea ice and myriad other potential calamities that could befall such an expedition, the longtime Eagle River Nature Center volunteer and legendary adventurer just shrugged.

Why not?

In an age when obesity rates are climbing and screen-hypnotized children have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the light of day, Griffith almost seems like a wanderer from another time. The idea that someone would willingly — even joyfully — give up the comforts of modern life for the loneliness and discomfort of the wild is a concept that’s becoming more alien every day.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Not everyone can walk alone hundreds of miles across the Arctic and return to tell the tale. But the lessons Griffth can teach about how to live our lives is profund.

By attacking each day of his 85-plus years with the relentless desire to explore and discover, to struggle and achieve, Griffith has set an example for us all. He’s kept his body and mind sharp not with trendy fitness programs and a blog, but by simply getting up every morning and living the day as if it were his last.

It’s a cliché, but every single one of Griffith’s many incredible adventures began with a single step into the unknown. He never worried about how difficult it would be to get to the end, he only thought about how much fun he’d have testing himself against his own limits and seeing things few people get to see. He didn’t think about the obstacles in his path, he just looked past them and kept on going no matter what.

Griffith is still going strong, showing up weekly at the nature center to help clear trails for future wanderers.

We’d be wise to follow in his footsteps.

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