I am an animal.

    Being called an animal is often a derogatory term; hardly.  The other options aren’t that appealing and include plants and fungi.  As a wildlife professor, it’s part of my job to make sure my students know that we humans are in the kingdom Animalia.  But the separation of our species from our wild relatives is of course relatively recent in terms of the time Homo sapiens have been bi-pedaling around the planet.  Yet this change is well entrenched.
    I have spent my entire life in the outdoors in one form or another.  As a kid, I was a nature nut and my adult life includes 4 years in the infantry (which turns out to be very much an outdoor undertaking) with the remainder spent as a wildlife biologist.  I’m 48 now and have what I would consider great balance and the ability to keep up with my 20-something students over most terrain.  I attribute this to my life outdoors (it certainly isn’t because of my exercising).
    I was answering some basic medical questions the other day when the nurse asked me when the last time I had fallen.  I told her I had no idea, I fall all the time.  Wrong answer.  Apparently, in adults, falling is actually a health concern.  I chuckled and explained what I did for a living.  I explained that caves get slippery, I like walking on downed logs to test my balance, I’m in streams all the time and so on.  She told me, when asked in the future, to say I didn’t fall.
    Times like these bring awareness to just how different we wildlife types (you know who you are) are from the civilized world, where falling is prohibited.  For the most part, I come out of my falls looking pretty good.  I’ve never broken a bone o had a serious injury.  Lucky perhaps but I’d like to give some credit where credit is due, to time in the outdoors.
    Again, it’s been a relative blink of the eye that our species have lived in such a level, well lit, non-slip environment.  There is little to challenge our balance or to make us pay attention to where we place our feet.  No strengthening of the joints and muscles from uneven terrain, no leg lifts over downed logs or need to limbo under low limbs.  Walking in the field is not like walking in the civilized world.

    I won’t follow the nurse’s advice, I’m proud of the fact that at 48, I still tend to roll out of many falls looking pretty cool (and have been able to walk away from all).  Time in nature folks, that’s good for what ails you.  Just watch Jessie’s field-honed skills I happened to capture as we headed back to the truck from a cave we explored.  Take notes on her style, you can’t teach this stuff!

Ray-
 

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