A very close friend of mine gave me a copy of a quote written by Edward Abbey, from "The Earth Speaks." It’s been posted on my refrigerator for 30 years. It goes something like this:


"Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizzly, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive…"


When I read this, I think back on the times that I’ve been asked about my outdoor activities by someone who has never enjoyed what I do. They laugh at you and make fun of you and try to belittle what you do, asking questions like: Why would anyone get out of a warm bed that early to go out in the cold? Why wouldn’t you just go to the store and buy your fish and meat? If you want to see animals, why not just go to a zoo or watch them on TV?


All I can say is that every time I’ve visited with these folks, I find that there is probably nothing I can say to make them understand what I am so privileged to see, smell, and taste. I always truly feel sorry for them and am so grateful that I get to enjoy it.


There have been many days in my life when I’ve decided to skip work and to go and enjoy the outdoors. I’ve been lucky to have a job that allows me to do so. I’ll tell you this: At the end of the day, I’ve never had any regrets for doing so, and not one time did I ever feel like it was a wasted day.


I thank God that He’s given me the ability to see, understand, and enjoy his great gift of the outdoors.


May God bless you all.


Rick Cunningham is an avid outdoorsman from Ellis, KS