A few weeks ago, my family and I went to Canada to hike, camp, and generally bond with nature and each other. In the days leading up to this trip, my wife revealed to me her greatest wish for our vacation: she wanted to see a moose.
As my family stood before our rental car at the airport on our first day of the trip, I made a point of impressing on the kids how important spotting a moose was to their mother (and therefore to me). I asked for their attention and dedication as we sought out one of these storied creatures for a family selfie, or at least a blurry snapshot that our friends would squint and agree was moose-ish.
The kids bought in and the family committed. We would find a moose.
For the next 10 days, we rose early and ventured into the wilderness (because that’s when the moose are supposed to be out). We made sure at least three of the four of us were soaking up our surroundings as we drove across Nova Scotia so we wouldn’t miss any roadside moose activity. We routinely did one more walk in the woods after dinner because we had been told that twilight is “moose o’clock.”
Well, we never saw a moose. We went to all of the places that moose were supposed to be. Each day we got up just a little earlier and stayed out just a little later than we would have. We maintained constant vigilance for over a week… but the moose (mooses? meese?) eluded us.
You might think that coming up short here is something I’m terribly sad about, but that’s not the case. Since my return to the states, I have reflected at length on the great failed moose hunt, and I have come to two important conclusions.
The first conclusion is that I believe moose are an elaborate hoax. They are not real and we have all been lied to by the national parks system and Canada to entice us to visit them and to buy moose memorabilia. You know how some people are pretty certain the moon landing didn’t happen? That’s where I am with moose.
The second conclusion is that even though we didn’t see a moose, searching for one made our trip immensely better.
We started each day with a purpose. We had a reason to be present in the moment and to focus on the beauty and enjoyment of what we were doing. We had a reason to get up and get going in the mornings, and to do just a little more exploration in the evenings. We had something to talk about and something to hope for together as a family.
To be honest, I would rather have not found a moose than to have found one the first day.
In life, I think we should all have a moose we are searching for. We should have something that we are hoping for and that is motivating us to get out there and live with a little extra gusto. That’s what the moose did for us.
So, what is your moose? What would give you joy if you found it? If you don’t know what your moose is, I’d ask that you find one. It could be a new hobby or something you have decided you want to learn more about. It could be a certification, a career achievement or a new relationship. It doesn’t matter what the thing you’re hunting for is, or even if you will ever find it. It just matters that you have something fun that you’re looking for.