Amazing Kids! Magazine

Nature’s Help

By Ryan Traynor, Assistant Editor


Adam sat on the corner of his bed with his head in his hands. He could hear his mother yelling up the stairs for him yet again, but he covered his ears and pretended he was far away.

“Adam, come ON! You’re going to be late for karate again,” she screamed.

Finally he pulled himself off of the bed and dragged himself down the stairs.

“I don’t want to go to karate, Mom,” Adam whined.

“Adam, we’ve talk about this already,” she urged. “We pay a lot of money for karate lessons each month and if you don’t go to lessons, that money is going down the drain.”

“But Mom, I’m just not as good as the other kids any more. It’s embarrassing to go to class.”

“It will only get worse the more you don’t go to lessons,” she reasoned. “Let’s go!”

He leaned down to pick up his karate bag and stomped out to the car.

Ninety minutes later he was storming back through the door. “I told you it’s no good.”

“Adam,” his mom began. “Take the weekend to think about it and let us know by Sunday if you want to keep going. Keep in mind that you are only 6 months away from getting your Certified Black Belt. It would be a shame to waste all the years of practice to miss out on this accomplishment. Your heart needs to be in it though. You can’t make any progress at practice unless you put effort into it.”

Adam spun around and gave his mother a sneer to make sure she understood that he was tired of her saying the same thing a thousand times to him. He stomped up the stairs and spent the remaining evening surrounded by his pillows on his bed with earphones covering his ears as he listened to his Ipod. Before long, he was fast asleep, exhausted from the grueling workout.

The next morning Adam awoke with a quick stretch but quickly buried his head under the covers as he realized he would have to address his decision today. Only the smell of bacon cooking downstairs made him peak his head from beneath the covers.

He sheepishly entered the kitchen, aware that he had taken his frustration out on his mother the prior evening. As he noticed the love on her face as she hummed lightly over the stove, he felt a little better.

“Hi Mom,” he began. “Sorry about last night. I decided that I’d like to take a walk in the park today, if that is okay with you. I think it will help me decide what to do about karate.”

“No problem,” she said lightly, trying to make light of the heavy decision weighing on his heart.

They finished breakfast and Adam went to the front closet to put on a jacket and scarf. He grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and gave a quick wave to his mom on his way out the door.

During the four blocks to the entrance to the park Adam listened to the sound of his footsteps on the pavement. He felt the staccato echoes beating like a stopwatch, making him more and more anxious. It was only after he passed the rows of houses with manicured lawns and saw the entrance to the park that he let out a deep breath and felt the tension begin to slip away. Due to the briskness, his cloud of breath rose before his face, making the entrance seem almost magical.

The moment he went between the fence posts of the entrance, he was hit with the welcoming arms of the forest. The trees seemed to be reaching out, beckoning him to enter. The change of weather had hardened the ground so that his steps made a deep thud, almost like ancient ritual drums. He was drawn further down the path.

His mind wandered back to karate. He had to make a decision about whether to continue with his training. Thinking about the discipline the exercises had taught him, he looked around at the unbridled growth of the forest. This park had been left to grow on its own, with only the paths being manicured by human hands so that he could enjoy it. Although he wanted to explore the beauty within, he was constrained by the path and could only admire its beauty from afar.

Finally Adam made his way to a clearing with a bench that overlooked the hillside below. His chest had begun to sting a little from the cold but somehow this made him feel more alive. He sat on the bench and took in the beauty below. At first it was an overwhelming feeling of awe because of the expansiveness of the rolling hills. The forest was like a blanket that shimmered from the frozen dew on the ends of the trees. However, the more he viewed the landscape, the more specific pieces were drawn into focus. He saw a family of deer prancing across the waving grass. As one of the adults hesitated and perked up its ears, the other deer followed in unison, waiting for the leader to motion them to continue. He stood up off of the bench and moved further down the path. After about 20 minutes he came upon a stream. He stopped to listen to the water talking to him as it bounced off of the rocks in the river. It was soothing and included many different sounds, like an orchestra pulling together harmonies. The water sparkled and seemed to jump from one rock to another. It traveled down the hill, swerving around boulders in the stream. Rather than being hampered by the boulders, they seemed to lead the stream into a new, interesting direction.  He picked up a small rock and threw it into the water. It was enveloped by the water, becoming one with the stream.

Adam turned back to the path and continued his journey around the hill to make his way back home. He came to the point where the paths splintered into several options. They ranged from short, difficult terrain, to longer but more even paths. He made his choice and picked up his pace, eager to reach home again.

During his hike he realized that nature was calling to him. The wide open forest reminded him of the years and years he had put into karate. When looking at the many years, it would seem overwhelming to a beginner. By focusing on the daily achievements, he was able to conquer the difficult individual trials. Now, thinking about the many years of lessons, he knew that what was important was not the time invested so far, but the lessons learned. No matter if he kept with karate or moved on, those lessons would always be with him. When he began he did not look at the total journey ahead of him and now, he knew that he should not look at the long journey he had already taken to get to this point. It was the lessons he had learned along the path that he needed to pull from for future trials. The family of deer reminded him of his Sensei and the family of fellow classmates at the karate dojo. They had been together for all these years and it seemed impossible to leave them behind. The Sensei had taught him so many lessons and led him through some troubling times. And yet, as Adam sat there, he felt he was ready to leave the fold and move on. He didn’t need a lead deer to tell him when it was safe to move on. He felt he wanted to be the leader now. The stream meandering around boulders made Adam realize that he did not have to be deterred by obstacles in his path. By steering around hard roads, he would find interesting challenges that would lead him into becoming a better person. Sometimes change is good. The many path options that offered a different hiking experience showed Adam that there was not one right answer to his question. Each option had positive and negative things associated with it. Although stopping karate lessons would stop his progression to his black belt, it did not erase the path he had just traveled. Also, he now had new, unexplored paths that he could choose. He could pursue track or acting and the after school practices and rehearsals would not interfere with his karate lessons. Perhaps he could find something that he was truly passionate about.

Opening the front door to his house Adam bellowed, “Mom, I’m home!” with an optimism he hadn’t felt in a long time. His conversation with nature helped him to realize that he was not “quitting” karate. He had learned the lessons he could from his experiences. He was ready to move on to a different path. Now, thanks to his hike, he could explain his decision to his parents without feeling like a failure. Nature had opened up his eyes to the new and exciting adventures he was about to experience and he felt like he was starting a new stage of his life.