The author spear fishing in the Caribbean 42 years ago
SECRET NO LONGER
Steve Dresselhaus – April 2013
Time to get it out in the open, to come out of hiding. I have been living a double life for far too long. Time to confess, to stop the hypocritical charade, to take my lumps and be done with my secret life once and for all. I am ….. (pause for effect and to build tension) …. I am an environmentalist. I am a JFG – a Jesus Following Greenie. Done. My secret is out. Let the chips fall where they may, but at long last, I am free to be me. This is my identity. This is who I am. Some of you will be disappointed, shocked, possibly even angered by my revealing of this secret, but as Martin Luther once said, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” As I write this there are cathartic tears of joy in my eyes. My breathing is heavy and my chest is tight with emotion, but at least I am breathing free and my heart is beating without chains. I know some will be shocked, but… I have to be me, I must be me.
I suppose I have known this all my life but could tell no one. How could a ten year old boy let his fundamentalist, conservative world know that he was different from the other boys and that he liked to ….. hike in the mountains and to sleep outdoors? That he would rather swim in a mountain stream than play basketball like the “normal” boys? That he would rather watch dragonflies skimming puddles than listen to football games on the radio or watch them on TV? I was not like the other boys. Throwing plastic bouncing spheres through metal rings failed to excite me the way watching wild guppies eat mosquito larvae in the nearby wetland did. I couldn’t help it. It was almost like a power outside of me that kept me from wanting to run back and forth countless times on a court while throwing the plastic sphere to sweaty boys arguing with the refs and complaining about bad calls.
My parents, though well-meaning, fed my struggles unknowingly. They took the family camping often and made many, many trips to the beach with the family; and my dad got me into SCUBA diving in the formative and impressionable stage of life when I was only twelve. How could that not have changed my identity, who I was and what I thought of myself? Even in my pre-teen years, my dad would take me on father and son trips to visit tribal groups in the remote jungles of South America where I grew up. Bush planes and dugout canoes were how we got to these villages. Could he not see what he was doing to me by these trips? He would hike with me up Andes ridges, the wind blowing in our faces, the roar of waterfalls in our ears and majestic views in our eyes. Is it any wonder I have become what I am with the way my father treated me?
The way my parents brought me up–and I don’t criticize their good intentions, and I can’t expect them to know what they were doing to me–led me to a life of studying resources management in college, becoming a multi-agency and multi-certified SCUBA instructor by the time I was 21, a certified sea kayaking instructor, a solo camper, and a hiker. It led to a life of looking at magazines behind the closed doors of my bedroom late into the night. National Geographic, Skin Diver Magazine, Outdoor Life and Backpacker Magazine littered my room and were stuffed under my bed. My mom one time caught me watching Mutual of Omaha’s ”Wild Kingdom,” starring Marlon Perkins, on TV. She kept any emotion at her discovery to herself, so I didn’t know how to react at being caught.
When I went off to college and was alone and without parental supervision, I became involved in fringe groups like campus recreation. My newfound friends accepted me for who I was and taught me things like how to wax cross country skis, to do solo camping in the winter snow, and to lead groups of college kids on camping trips. I continued on in the silent, nearly invisible world of SCUBA and taught SCUBA classes even while taking a full load of classes myself, classes like geology, biology, climatology, and even classes on park forestry.
Now I am out in the open. I am an environmentalist. I want to worship God by admiring his work. I want to obey God by managing his creation the way he instructed us to in the beginning. I want to preserve the health of our beautiful planet so that it will continue to provide abundantly for all of its inhabitants the way God designed it. I want it to be beautiful so that when he returns, he can look at what he left us to care for and say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”