Life Lessons That I Learned

By Max Myers

May 18, 2022

Five students relaxing under a waterfall on a cliff
Photo by Max Myers


On the final night of our Canyons section, my group of ten and I gathered around a campfire to say our parting words to the world that had challenged us mentally, physically, and emotionally for the past thirty days. 

My instructors Bekah Sanders and Zach Taylor had one final lesson planned for us: they asked each one of us to go around in a circle and name one thing that the canyons had taught them that they could take back with them when NOLS had concluded. Frantically, I jotted down a seemingly infinite amount of these lessons, and kept adding to them in the next six weeks of the journey. These were simple things about life that I didn’t even realize were imperative foundations to the way I see the world.

Canoeing on calm river in a steep desert canyon
Photo by Max Myers


Out there, alone with only a group of twelve I discovered a new foundation that has changed my perspective on the world. Now I’m at college and life is a lot less simple. Between the hectic class schedule and social life I still find time to look back in my journal- and I’ll be adding to it for the rest of my life. Sure, I miss the incredible people that I was fortunate enough to spend three months with, and I miss seeing natural beauty of biblical proportions on a daily basis. But when I look back at my journal, that’s not what I see. I see the future. The life I see for myself is filled with joy, stability, and the feeling that I have the power to live the life that I want for myself, not the one that was chosen for me.

Four students backcountry skiing in the mountains
Photo by Max Myers


Dedicated to FSR 9 and 10:
(written down in my journal over the course of my three month course)

  • Everything's better with your friends
  • Never ever quit no matter how hard it is; it will always get better
  • Get out of bed!
  • The outdoors will always be there for you
  • Think about how you can constantly improve
  • Never wait for other people to do things for you if you can do it yourself
  • Ask people if they can do something, don’t command them
  • Take care of your gear
  • Speak in terms of “I” when you want to tell someone how they are affecting you
  • Appreciate people
  • Good communication is key to relationships
  • Group before you
  • Hard times make you grow
  • SHARE!
  • The hardest days are usually the most rewarding
  • Appreciate the little things in life
  • Life a life of living, not waiting
  • You don’t need to worry about the things that aren’t important
  • You can let go of things you once thought were necessary
  • “Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
  • Live simply
  • Look for the next adventure
  • You can do a lot with just a little
  • Reflecting is hard but incredibly important
  • Find people you love
  • Think about the risk and reward in the things you do
  • “Don’t let school interfere with education”
  • Give people a chance
  • Strive to be better towards the people around you
  • You are the priority in life
  • Vulnerability fosters stronger relationships
  • Don’t look back on life feeling like you haven’t lived
  • Celebrate your accomplishments
  • Let out your inner child
  • “If you have feet you can dance, if you can talk you can sing”
  • Wake up with a purpose, go to bed exhausted
  • Embrace all of the adventure: when you’re cold, wet, hungry, and tired - embrace it all
  • Have a sense of place, and get to know a place
  • There’s always setbacks in life. It’s not about how you deal with them in the moment but how you react after
  • All it takes is one person with a vision for something big to happen
  • Slow down, take your time, and do a good job
  • Don’t have implicit biases toward people
  • Think about why you're having the emotions your having
  • Make the most out of every situation and every day
  • Be an ally
  • Do the things that make you feel more like yourself, but also don’t forget to try new things
  • You never know what kind of an impact you could have on someone else so make it positive
  • Respect and life up other’s voices
  • Try to understand the people that you think you might not like
  • Find Positive Role Models
  • Live Deliberately
  • Don’t be afraid of going uphill

Written By

Max Myers

Max Myers is a First Year Student at Middlebury College in Vermont. He lives with his parents, older brother, twin sister and dog Rocky in Larchmont, NY. His favorite things to do are canoeing and kayaking, reading and writing, playing hockey, and spending time with his dogs.

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