Judgmental Is Good
I have some good news and some bad news. Two short stories.
Story 1. When I was a much younger man I worked one Summer at Camp Manitowish in northern Wisconsin, the largest YMCA camp in the U.S. They had a fleet of sailboats, and one free evening I thought it would be romantic (not to mention exhibiting my versatile manhood) to take my wife on a sail. Boulder Lake is not a small one, and I chose a fairly good size boat with which to impress my bride. My previous sailing experience was somewhere between zero and negative ten, but, even though little tingles in the back of my head whispered that perhaps I wasn’t equipped for this, I thought: “How hard can this be.” All the other camp counselors made it look pretty easy. End of story: I turtled the boat and stuck the mast in the muddy bottom. The camp director was not impressed. Neither was my wife.
Story 2. Much later in life I took up alpine mountaineering, summitting the major volcanic peaks in the Cascade Mountain range of Washington-Oregon-California. The one peak that remained was South Sister outside of Bend, OR. It was the last of the Cascade chain that my daughter and I planned to climb together, but never accomplished due to her death in a climbing accident. One day I set off to climb this hill solo (it’s not a technical climb) in honor of Jeniffer. I climbed to and camped at the 8000’ level and woke up in the morning to snow and gale force winds. With only a couple thousand vertical feet to the top, I figured I could make it. But that same back-of-the-head tingle was whispering that it would be prudent to not try this alone . . . to head back downhill and wait for another day with more favorable conditions. Which is what I did.
The bad news: I didn’t listen to my better judgement and dumped my wife in the drink. The good news: I listened to my better judgment and survived to climb South Sister with my son another day.
One of my “Dad-always-used-to-say” sayings to my children was/is: “always listen to your better judgment” . . . and follow it. Good counsel . . . for them, for me, for everybody.