The Three A’s

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can;

And the Wisdom to always know the difference.”

                            – The Serenity Prayer


In 1996 during a hike in Bolivia’s Cordillera Apolobomba, I spent a full day in an abandoned miner’s hut riding out the ‘Mother of all Storms’. During this enforced break, I came up with the Three A’s of travelling in developing countries: acceptance, adaptation and appreciation. Translated into backcountry terminology, it goes something like this:

  • Accept the environment on its own terms:  The natural world is a fluid one. Conditions can vary dramatically from day to day, let alone from one season to the next. Hikers who head into the wilderness with an itinerary that’s set in stone and a mindset to match often find themselves in trouble when Mother Nature does an about-face.
  • Adapt accordingly:  Once you have made an assessment and accepted a situation for what it is (rather than what you thought it might be), theory must then be translated into action. Decisions in the wilderness should be based upon two overriding considerations;  1. The conditions at hand, and 2. Do you have the ability, equipment and experience with which to handle those conditions? 
  • Appreciate and Learn. The decision is made; action has been taken. Now it comes down to perspective. Whether the challenge you are facing is simple or difficult in the extreme, nothing will ever be gained by negativity. Learn to appreciate the tough times. View them as opportunities for greater understanding; both in terms of yourself and also the natural world into which you have chosen to venture. 


The Three A’s — 2 Comments

  1. The rest of the Serenity Prayer is the best part:
    ….Living one day at a time;
    enjoying one moment at a time;
    accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
    Taking as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.
    Trusting that He will make all things right, if I surrender to His will.
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him in the next.

    Happy Trails,



    • I don’t agree that the final part of the Serenity Prayer “is the best”. The beauty of the words that I quoted is that they are universal in nature. The final lines you mentioned speak exclusively from the viewpoint of one particular faith. From my own perspective, their are many paths that lead to the same place. In the words of Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet):

      “……say not that, “I have found the truth”, but rather, “I have found a truth.”

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