My Dad and I had a contentious relationship when I was a child. But despite that, he gave me a life-altering gift. This gift has gotten me through deep heartache, suicidal thoughts, and the Covid-19 Quarantine.

When I was 9 years old my Dad dragged me up a 12,000 foot mountain in the Colorado Rockies. The hike was challenging, but when I got to that remote mountain lake, with not a soul around except my Dad and brother, I thought I’d gotten to heaven.

It was so quiet, I could hear the earth humming. The lake was so clear, I could see the fish fleeting around.

My Mema, who had been my greatest ally and thought I was perfect, had died only a few days before. And for many reasons I couldn’t go to her funeral.

Getting to the top of that mountain, and hearing the earth’s heartbeat, soothed all the pain, anguish and loneliness I felt from her departure.

It was like the people-less earth filled the wounds of my body with a soothing salve.

During the quarantine, I went backpacking as I had done for 40 years. It was the best place for social distancing.  The first night I was out, I remembered what was really true in the world. The trees, birds, and rippling creek always reminds me that there’s much bigger universal forces at play. That no matter how bad things look, there’s always good underneath.

Sometimes we just have to wipe the dust and doom from our eyes and look for it.

I’m forever grateful for my Dad teaching me how to feel safe by myself in the woods. Without that I’m not sure I would’ve made it this far.

But thanks to my Dad’s gift, I know there’s strength and safety in the wilderness.