Elks are a highly adaptable species of deer, found mostly in mountainous regions and forested habitats native to North America. These rugged creatures came to mind when I was reflecting on how I came to befriend a few outdoorsy types a couple of years back. I thought about influence, and whether it was possible for a style bunny to exert any over these tough creatures.
You know the type. Olive green cargo shorts, dri-fit shirts, heavy trekking shoes, a tan that never fades. A serious demeanor perhaps perfected in camping on the sides of mountains with other mountaineers, the enviable ability to always think of those on the team more important than himself.
When I first saw them at a distance, I felt intimidated. What would I say? I never ran outdoors, much less climbed anything more than a hill. The Sarge, as one of them came to be known, started the running group which has since taken me to new highs, literally. The other, known as the Missile because of his sprinting style, I found at the start only polite and amiable. It wasn’t going to go anywhere.
People are like mountains, with many sides to them. Some have more approachable faces, some are, like the North Face of the Eiger, unreadable, inscrutable, moody. Patience is key. That and asking a lot of questions.
The influence, I found, goes both ways. They’ve introduced dri-fit to our social occasions, and the word canyoning is my word of the month. I’ve started doing an intense interval workout called Tabata, which is killing me softly on my rest days. At my end, I’ve had a ball of a time shopping for shirts (dri-fit is not the go-to shirt for all occasions), and I’ve earned the right to speak my mind with the comforting knowledge that no one is going to feel insulted or what’s sillier, that they are being wrongly criticised.
To seek to understand, and then to be understood; that’s this style bunny’s secret weapon to befriending people of a different ilk. Or in this case, elk.