Nolan W is confused and confusing.  He is at the intersection of adolescence and adulthood that now extends to the mid-20’s in the post-Great Recession economy.  He has a job he does not like, a Master’s program he has not finished, an adoring girlfriend he wants to dump and absolutely no idea in which direction to point his wanderlust.

Nolan recently announced that he is considering joining a covert military branch that specializes in rescuing lost or captured soldiers behind enemy lines.  “Only five percent of the enlistees make it through training,” he boasts.

“What makes you think you will be in that five percent,” I ask.

It is as though I have asked Kobe Bryant if he can dunk a basketball.

Nolan teaches physical education at a local charter school.  It is not the type of PE that involves balls in a gymnasium.  Rather, Nolan’s students are “alternative” students who have not functioned well in traditional learning environments and have transferred to an “alternative” school that embraces a curriculum centered on the outdoors.  There is rock climbing, hiking, canoeing and orienteering.  The more scientific-minded among the students learn the finer points of operating a compass.

Although this is the perfect match for Nolan’s skillset he yearns for more adventure.  He resists the administrators and other teachers and their expectations of particular outcomes.  “How do you test someone’s ability to hike?” he asks, with exasperation.

In consultation with Nolan’s parents, from whom he is temporarily estranged, again, I have suggested an alternative to Nolan that would satisfy his restlessness and, at the same time, satisfy their desire that he survive to reconcile with them again.

“Have you thought about Costa Rica?” I ask.

“What about it?” he responds.

“You could go down there and have a great adventure.  There are parks and mountains and volcanoes and surfing beaches.  There are visitors from all over the world.  There is wildlife like nowhere else.”

I refrain from mentioning the safety and friendliness for which the country is so well known.  That would turn him off, for sure.

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