By Charles Towne
The forest is vast.
For the unprepared, it presents many dangers. For the unfamiliar, the chance of becoming lost is always a possibility. For the unwary, the terrain, though beautiful to the extreme, is also treacherous. For the foolish–? Oh well, the foolish are always their own worst enemy. In the wilderness are canyons that can swallow a man and leave no trace. There are mountains that present their own dangers. One might fall off a cliff to plummet to his death on the rocks far below. Or he could break through a snow bridge and, gravity being what gravity is, he could fall into a crevasse. Or he could be swept away and buried in an avalanche. And we cannot forget the rivers, those raging torrents can sweep one away to drown, and be nibbled on by minnows and eaten by crabs. But then, he isn’t aware of the minnows and crabs because he was after all– dead.
He thought he knew where he was going.
But, he was a man easily distracted. He was not one to waste his time in a lot of careful, and what he considered unnecessary preparation. Three days into his trek he ran out of water, but he knew there were streams so he was not overly concerned until he realized that the trail he had been following was, in reality, one made by wild animals, and though he had a compass he had never taken the time to learn how to use it, and so—he wandered thirsty, hungry and alone, because he was unprepared, he died.
He hoped he knew where he was going.
He had a compass and a map and he knew how to use them. He was an intelligent man, but one prone to take unnecessary risks. The day came when, seeing a patch of blackberries at the side of the trail he dropped his pack which contained his map and compass, and he began wandering, picking the delicious fruit. But, when he turned back he realized the trail was not where it should be! He was lost. He wandered aimlessly until he stumbled onto another trail, and he was overjoyed when he saw boot-prints in that trail! He followed those tracks. Several days later, at his extreme, starving, thirsty, exhausted, he caught up with the man he had been following lying dead on the trail. He had been following a dead man. Thus and so, he also died.
He knew where he was going.
He had planned and prepared for his journey. Yes, he had a plan and he possessed all the right equipment, and more important, he knew how to use his tools. He stuck to his plan, and when he did wander off the trail he referred to his map and compass and within a short time, happily, he regained the trail. He picked blackberries. He fished, and at night he sat in his camp and ate the blackberries and the fish, and when he slept he dreamed good dreams, and the next day, well rested, he resumed his journey. He enjoyed the experience, and eventually, sooner than later, he reached his goal and lived a long and happy life guiding others through the wilderness.
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.