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There's More Than One Kind of Bird

One morning last week I was sitting on my patio watching the birds in my backyard when I realized, "There's more than one kind of bird!"  Moreover, there are several kinds of birds in each size.  Look in a Peterson Field guide and see how many times it refers to a "robin-sized" bird.  One could argue that a robin is the best "robin-sized" bird.  But there are hundreds of "robin-sized" birds.  I guess there's not a single best "robin-sized" bird.  Sorry robins.

As obvious as this may sound, it shattered my world.

I have always felt that "single best" exists.  I'm always looking for the single best way to load the dishwasher.  The single best recipe for potato salad.  And the single best pair of hiking boots.   But, if there can be more than one size of bird and more than one kind of bird in every size, then my potato salad recipe ISN'T the "single best" recipe.  And, just like the birds in my backyard, there must be dozens, if not hundreds, of great potato salad recipes!  Sigh.  And, even though I think my hiking boots are the best, there are hundreds of great boots to choose from!  Sigh again.  And the idea that there is more than one way to load the dishwasher brings me to tears.

Connecting with the outdoors is like that, too.  While we all have our "favorite" way to connect with the outdoors, there isn't one best way.  Whether it's a backpack in the Sierra, a picnic in the local park or just sitting in the backyard looking at the size of birds, there are hundreds of ways to connect with the outdoors.  I know I've always felt that backpacking was the single best way.  But, just as I've come to realize that there is not a single size of bird, I've also come to realize that there are an infinite number of ways to connect with the outdoors.  As we work to connect people to the outdoors under the name of Mission Outdoors, we need to make room for them all.  So get out today.  And, please, if you can, take someone with you. 

-Tom Libby, Co-Lead Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Leadership Team



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