One of the most memorable things my father taught me to do was waterski. When I was six months old, he put me on his lap and took me kneeboarding. When I was two years old, he stood me on the front of his jump skis and we skied together around the lake. I can remember skiing next to him during the summer after second grade, holding hands as we crossed the boat wakes. Waterskiing is my father’s passion, and every life lesson that he taught me can be traced back to hot summer days on the lake.
Traditional gender roles can and should be broken. My father doesn’t see gender roles. Every summer morning, he would wake me before 7 to ski. I was the only girl in the boat, but that didn’t matter to him. To my father, I was a skier, and I was treated the same as all the other (male) skiers. He coached me to beat my personal best slalom score, expected me to wear the same wetsuit as the boys, and he always pushed me to try new things like barefoot skiing, trick skiing, and even jumping in a competition. In that competition, I placed first among the women and second overall (my dad placed first). Regardless of my gender, I was still expected to get back in the boat and always try my best.
“Hurry up and have fun.” One of my father’s favorite expressions is “hurry up and have fun.” Every summer morning, it was a race to slather ourselves in sunscreen and run across the yard, down the dock, and climb into the boat. We would spend hours on the lake, slalom skiing, trick skiing, kneeboarding, and wakeboarding. Although we were having the time of our lives, we still had to rush. There was no time for dawdling between ski runs. If you were the next skier on deck, you needed to be ready to jump in the water the second the last skier climbed into the boat. Once you were behind the boat, you could catch your breath between slalom sets. Other than that, you needed to live in the moment and be ready for whatever life (or other skiers) threw at you.
“A bad day on the water is still better than a good day in the office.” Any day spent on the lake is a good day. My father always appreciates the time he spends doing what he loves, even if it isn’t going exactly the way he had planned. If the day is windy or the water conditions aren’t ideal, he is still spending time on the water with his family, and that is what matters.
“You can get calluses if you sit for long periods of time.” My father can’t sit still. His version of “tickling the wheat” is running from activity to activity. At times when we couldn’t be on the water skiing, our time was still well spent, according to my father. We went on a family trip to Washington D.C. and ran between the different monuments. We managed to see all the monuments and museums on our list within a weekend, and it’s amazing that we even took the time to eat meals or sleep, but we still had a wonderful time. There was no down time or relaxation on that trip (or any other family vacation), but we were creating family memories.
Taking the time to tickle the wheat looks different for every person. It doesn’t mean sitting still and letting the wheat blow around you. Instead, you need to actively pursue the things that matter to you. Time spent with family and friends is the best time spent, especially when you’re doing something you love.