Chris at play. Photo: Jakob KaferI have a lot of friends who played football in high school and college. They loved their sport, and poured everything that they had into it during that period in their lives, splitting their time between the gym and practices. Because of their hard work and representation of their respective schools, these people were the big men on campus and received all kinds of attention.But then a funny thing happened… they graduated, and the limits of their ability levels dictated the end of their football careers. Just like you see in the movies, that last game is built up as “the most important game of their lives.” And after that is over, well, time to fade into anonymity, take a job in an unrelated field, and the goal becomes getting rich and fat.I have seen this happen to more than a few people who I went to high school with, and it has always fascinated me how they never touch a football again, and live the rest of their lives talking about the glory days.It confuses me because my relationship with kayaking, biking, sailing and skiing is so much different from this. These are lifetime sports, and form an essential part of the fabric of our lives. Old friends and family members often ask me when I see them: “are you still doing the kayaking thing?Well, yes!I want to be able to rip it on the slopes, trails, and water until I am very old. And here’s the funny thing… I truly believe that the time that I spend in those places getting fresh air and exercise is extending my life as well.I don’t know if some people who are close to me think that one day I will “grow up” and stop heading into the mountains on occasion and acting like a kid, getting lost, one-upping with my friends, and coming back to the real world with a happily refreshed mind and body. If you think that is going to come to an end then I’m sorry to disappoint you, but maybe you should try acting like a kid again yourself. That is what these activities allow us to do.Our sports do not represent a phase in our lives. There isn’t a point where we decide that we put it down and retire. There are always times when life gets in the way and we need to shift priorities around a bit, but our time in the outdoors is a foundation of our souls that is always there to return to. It helps us to think clearly and re-center. These sports are like an old friend… even after a period of time away, you can always pick up where you left off.I truly look forward to keeping these relationships with my sports as long as I live, as well as someday passing these joys and experiences on to the next generation.