On a glorious early September day, I decided to explore one of the many hiking trails at Mt. Charleston, Nevada. The hiking trails at Mt. Charleston are one of the many geological anomalies of the Las Vegas desert. When one thinks of a desert they generally do not think of mountain hiking trails starting at the 6,000 ft elevation and towering as high as 11,000 ft. Trees blanket the rugged terrain and often temperatures are 15 – 20 degrees cooler than the desert floor – all this just 30 minutes from the famous neon studded strip.
No matter how much I love nature and hiking, I have never mastered the art of using the great outdoors as my personal outhouse. Knowing my self-imposed limitation, I habitually use the park provided outhouses before starting out on a trail. Now technologically, outhouse sanitation has come a very long way. In many modern facilities in national parks you might not be totally aware that they really are outhouses the outhouse sanitation technology is so good. However, Mt. Charleston is not one of those places. The facilities there are every bit as bad as what I imagined the first constructed outhouses to be like – a gloried hole in the ground enclosed in a closet – oh, but with something that resembles a place to sit. Oozing from this structural temple of modesty you can usually assume an indescribably unpleasant odor that requires anyone choosing to enter to question why they would not just use some tree in the forest to relieve themselves. Okay, I am one of those people who should be questioning their choice.
But then I would have missed an opportunity to learn a good life lesson! On this day, I arrived at the outhouse in time to see a common family dynamic unfold. A mother in her thirties, dressed as though she has hiked many times before, stood with her two young sons as her daughter solemnly entered the outhouse. The mother greeted me apologetically for my needing to wait for yet one more child to use the facilities. In as long as it took for her to share her apology, her daughter exited with a pained, grimmest look on her face. Her mother cut her conversation with me short and snapped her attention to her child.
“Susie, you could not have done anything in that amount of time!” the visibly annoyed mom observed. With a squint of her eyes and finally releasing her breath which she had been holding, the little girl commanded, “You told me I had to ‘get in there’. You did not say I had to do anything.” The mother was not pleased, but I could not contain my laughter.
How many times had I done that in my life? How many times had I directed someone to do something they clearly did not want to or care to do, only to have them find a way not to comply? Demand compliance and you will get complacency or worse – contempt. Or, how many times had I made a request to God and not been clear? That will actually be the subject of my next blog. We do get what we ask for, so I suggest we choose our words very carefully.
With appreciation, Andrea
Andrea T. Goeglein, Ph.D.
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