As a child there was a familiar echo whenever things got tough. Whether it be during a post-dinner basketball game, a living room wrestling match, or shouted over a wide open Canadian lake, “Forty more yards” could be heard. It resounded off the terrain and embedded itself deep into the psyche of my siblings and I. Whether we admit it or not, it’s a mantra that pushes us beyond our normal comfort zones and lets us explore new spaces physically, mentally, and emotionally.
You can see that push in the way my sister parents her children, or in the Forest School she started from scratch. You can feel it in each paddle stroke my brother takes in his canoe, or in each tent stake he sinks deep into Mississippi sand. You can smell it in my sweat-soaked singlet after an ultramarathon, or touch it in my swollen ankles days later. It pervades our memories, our lives, and helps us create our futures.
Forty more yards started as something Dad would yell at us.
It became much more than that.