The Best Advice So Far - peepers - woodland wetlands in moonlight

Snow fell well into spring this year. So whenever a day’s temperate now peaks 50°, there’s a palpable buzz in the air that feels more like summer. As far as the eye can see, sidewalks teem with bikers and joggers, dog walkers and pullers of little red wagons.

By the time essential work wound down this past Friday, I found myself facing a laundry list of domestic tasks that “needed” my attention, not the least of which was, in fact, laundry. But heeding my own advice to prioritize time for stillness, and with the extended hours of daylight beckoning, I made the choice to head out to the park for an evening stroll.

It was the right choice.

As sunset gave way to twilight, I heard them.

The peepers.

At first, they were timid, tentative, sporadic. But the first bold few lent their courage to more, until the entire perimeter of marshy woodlands was alive with their cadence.

I wondered how many others in the park around me even noticed. Or, I should say, took notice. There’s a difference—a choice that draws us beyond vague awareness to intentional appreciation and further exploration.

Well, speaking of “further exploration,” I mentioned back in January that my theme for 2018 would be to further explore ideas I’d already covered in my book The Best Advice So Far from a different angle. Here’s one of the shortest pieces of advice in the book:

Do something new every day.

My friend Chad was the very first person I blogged about back in 2011. He now owns his own (fun and uniquely people-centered) company, called We!. And he’s got his own spin on that advice. Whether he’s speaking at a camp, college or corporate conference, Chad’s famous for putting it this way:

Follow your natural curiosity.

It’s even shorter than mine—just four words—but it’s so packed with potential life change that I dare say it’s the cornerstone concept every single time Chad speaks or facilitates.

Join me back at the park, surrounded by those peepers.

I stopped. I noticed. I took notice.

As a child exploring the acres of dense woods and wetlands behind my grandparents’ house, I’d seen the peepers up close and personal many times. Hundreds upon hundreds of them lining the marshy edges of some little swamp—popping up like corn kernels in hot oil.

But I realized that night in the park that, while I’ve heard peepers each year and cherished their songs until the very last of them quiets in the fall, I’d not ventured out to where they were in three-and-a-half decades or more.

And so, follow my natural curiosity I did.

I veered from the packed-dirt path and off into the trees, down a hill, crunching through a mat of dead leaves and twigs only recently released from the last of winter’s snow. Bits of green poked through—a wayward crocus here, a fiddlehead fern there—just visible in the last waning light of dusk.

A mere two yards in and—all at once…

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About Erik

I'm an author, speaker, blogger, facilitator, people lover, creative force, conversationalist, problem solver, chance-taker, listener, noticer and lover of life. "It's more about writing lives than writing pages." View all posts by Erik

3 responses to “peepers

  • roughwighting

    Well, my natural curiosity led me to your fabulous post about my favorite thing regarding a New England spring: THE PEEPERS. The first early evening I heard them, I happened to be walking with a grandson (7 years old); without warning, I shouted joyously. “THE PEEPERS ARE BACK!” The poor kid jumped two feet. But he didn’t know about the peepers – he hadn’t paid enough attention to that glorious sound. It’s said that children have a natural curiosity, and we can learn from them. But you know what? WE can teach children also, to stop listen be aware of all around us.
    Your recording is wonderful. I can’t get off your site. I’m listening to that musical cacophony over and over. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erik

      It really was stunning, being right in the middle of it. I’m so glad I thought to record a bit of it so I could share.

      And I shout “THE PEEPERS ARE BACK!” every year as well! In fact, this year, it was actually as I was leaving the gym after a workout at 2:00AM. And, yup, right there, alone in the parking lot, I did it: shouted “THE PEEPERS ARE BACK!”

      And you are absolutely right, Pam. Children need adults to teach them the importance of following and relishing in the right kinds of curiosity. When I was younger, I worked more frequently with very young children instead of teens and young adults. I remember one program where they had a theme song that they taught the kids: “Never wiggle, wiggle, wiggle / Never giggle, giggle, giggle / Better stomp the wiggle worm / When you feel the urge to squirm …” And I refused to sing it. Why on earth would we want to teach children not to move or laugh? But somehow, even when we aren’t teaching it through a crazy song, adults can send the message that life is about staying “on the beaten path” and not about learning the richness and joy of exploration (again, in the right ways).

      Liked by 1 person

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