We draw inspiration from what we see and hear, from the stories that are told and the memories they keep alive, but what is in a memory?

Into the rich earth of a childhood spent outdoors, seeds from our favorite moments, oft unnoticed, fall. Like a breadcrumb trail, the planting follows us throughout our lives, some dropping onto rocky ground, some in bramble, some, still, into receptive soil.

When the farrago of our everyday drives us back and we seek refuge in the comfortable corners of our minds, it is our good fortune to discover the bright sunshine of these times thought gone with us still, and thriving. Our past is never gone.

In the world of small town politics, they say friends come and go but enemies accumulate. In some ways, our memories can do the same. In the gray of winter, recollections of a lifetime trawl’s bycatch of mistakes and bad decisions gather to receive us each night, while good memories must be sought one at a time. They’re out there, though. In there. Back there.

Somewhere, not too far behind, are warm, sunny days free of motive, high mountain trails free of angst, subtle hardwood sunrises full of wonder. Our past is never gone.

To find them, it bears remembering our best memories were made at times that saw all the distractions of life, as always, quite with us. The problems of childhood only appear trivial in retrospect, through the lens of whatever we imagine much bigger that bothers us now.

Somehow, last decade’s exaggerated worries and imagined miseries that failed to tell do not count against their cousins that plague us now. A truer mirror would be inscribed “Objects Seemed Larger Than They Appear.” Time has only sifted the distractions away, leaving the heart of the joys to remain.

As stewards of the outdoors, our work is a living conduit to these times, our own and those of others. We clear these paths for ourselves, of course, for all communication must have a beginning, but sharing them reinforces our peace, confirms our place. That’s what makes the wide open so special to me. More than a resource, a retreat or a refuge, it is a tangible terrain of the heart.

Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media for Mossy Oak in West Point.

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