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  • Yesterday, I lost my Man Card.

    My family – wife and three teenaged kids – went for a short hike in the National Forest by our town.

    It was a beautiful day. The air was cool and the leaves starting to show their fall colors. My oldest daughter was home from college for the weekend. All good reasons for a family bonding excursion.

    This trail in the forest is a fairly easy one with the exception of one section of about 100 yards that was not. This section is technically closed off with a rope, but it appeared that no one took this sign of seriously. We saw other hikers duck under the rope and walk on, as this section connected to another part of the trail making a loop.

    There was a good reason why this section of the trail was closed off. It was a narrow, rocky path along a high cliff overlooking a creek below. Emboldened by our fellow hikers we decided to follow suit. The kids went first. They seemed to manage OK, then beckoned us, the parents.

    Ten years ago or earlier, adventures like this would have been a piece of cake, even enjoyable due to its risky nature. But today at age 55, I felt an unfamiliar cautiousness and lack of confidence. The adrenaline was not pumping as it would have ten years ago, instead I was overcome with panic and fear. But I could not let my kids see this. I was the risk-taker, the bold one. The Dad. So I slowly began to make my way along the rocky cliff on hands and knees, clutching on to any tree limb or tuft of grass I could.

    I eventually made it across the treacherous part only to be met with three pairs of eyes looking up at me with a mix of what seemed like relief, surprise and disappointment.

    That’s exactly where and when I lost my Man Card.
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