In Roman mythology Janus (hence the month January) was the god of beginnings and endings. Most often this mythological character was depicted as a human-like figure except for two faces—one looking forward (towards the future) and the other face looking backwards (towards the past). The significance being this was a god said to be symbolizing transition. A god having the power to both observe the past while predicting future unforeseen events.
Of course, us mere mortals have substantially limited power when it comes to predicting future outcomes. Yet, we can (and should) look back on our lives during the past 12 months and plan (attempt to predict) what the future holds.
For starters, ask yourself did you spend enough time outdoors during 2009 enjoying the activities on which you thrive? If the answer is NO, then make a pledge to yourself to make some changes. My suggestion: Take a calendar and start blocking out days for turkey hunting outings, fishing trips, even next fall's hunting trips. Do this BEFORE that schedule fills up with other life appointments and commitments.
Next up, do some introspection and ask yourself how do you want to improve as an outdoorsman. Before the winter doldrums set in, use the so-called "off-season" constructively to improve on your outdoor skills, whatever they may be.
For instance, I have set two goals before spring. First, I intend to take some lessons in fly-tying to better master a skill I have always admired but never had the patience to develop. Next, in February I plan to take an NRA Range Safety Officer training class to improve on my awareness of proper gun handling technique while hopefully being better prepared to share that knowledge with others.
Here's another good question to ask yourself. Is there someone new with whom you can share your outdoor passion? Maybe you've noticed how each time you head out to the lake the neighbor kid looks bored and uninspired while playing in their yard. Well, change that.
We all have people around us who would jump at the opportunity to go fishing or hunting or maybe even just away for some camping. Make 2010 the year you break out of your routine and invite some new blood along for the adventure. After all, it takes a combined effort by each of us to turn the trend of attrition that so many of our outdoor sports are unfortunately experiencing.
Another good pledge to yourself is discovering ways you can set a better example to other sportsmen. I do most of my outdoor activities with a 13–year old stepson who is like a sponge when it comes to learning the right or wrong way to behave outdoors. Often times the example you set is the model by which others (both young and old, alike) will pattern their behavior.
The point is we can all somehow improve and become better stewards of our respective outdoor sports. For instance, another pledge to myself this year is to pick up trash I see while out in the woods or along the stream. Observing that Snickers candy wrapper streamside is akin to viewing a pimple on the face of a supermodel—it just doesn't belong there. Starting in 2010 no longer will I step over some trash and continue on walking leaving it for someone else to pick up.
Here's something else to consider. Do certain policies proposed by the DNR or laws contemplated by our governing officials raise your blood pressure? Why just internally fret about them or grumble to your outdoor buddies. Take some action. Let your voice be heard.
With 2010 as an election year, if you have something on your mind, send the message directly to the people who need to hear it. There's a certain cathartic feeling simply by expressing one's concerns. More importantly, don't expect change to occur if you couldn't even invest time in the action necessary to request it.
Indeed, as we look forward to 2010 there are many ways we can collectively make it a better year spent outdoors. Much of the positive change begins at a personal level by making a pledge to YOU and then carrying through on it. Spend some time looking back at 2009 and I'm confident you'll discover ways to improve on the next 12 months to come.
In mythological times Janus may have had the god-like power to predict the future. Yet, don't underestimate the power you also hold in making positive changes to the past.