I’ve just finished writing a magazine article, destined for a publication which shall remain anonymous about a topic which shall also remain anonymous. (Proprietary information. It’s the epitome of rude to disclose upcoming content.) But I’ll give this much away: it’s about a little-known frontier hero. I know, way outside my usual pet topics. But I like history, too, and I’m particularly fascinated by this historical figure. The big surprise, however, was that one aspect of this man’s life spoke to me and intertwined with recent developments in my own life adventure.
Like many Westerners, this frontiersman had wanderlust. He also had a drive to challenge himself. He did not shy from obstacles—he pursued them. His willingness to challenge himself to the limits won him a 500-page biography and an honorable mention in countless other histories of the west. But more importantly, it sharpened both his character and his skill and made him supremely useful to his fellow man.
I really admire people who push themselves. I’m fascinated by people who cross oceans in replica Viking ships and unicycle across South America. To date, my adventures have been tame by comparison. But this year, a notion implanted itself in my mind, and refused to go away.
It all started on a jaw-rattling spring night of 42°. Molly and I were camping in our tent and trying hard to stay warm. (It’s a little crowded sharing your sleeping bag with a 90-pound dog.) Too cold to sleep, so I daydreamed (in the dead of the night) about living out of my tent and touring America. Because despite lack of creature comforts (and presence of large creature occupying half my sleeping bag), I was having the adventure of a lifetime. If 42° won’t build character, what will?
When we climbed out of the tent the next morning, the daydream was still there. Only it wasn’t practical. How do I provide ten pounds of meat a week for my dog without a fridge or freezer? Would I really feel secure in a tent? What would I do with Molly when I went to the grocery store for said ten pounds of meat?
Teddy Roosevelt (no, not the subject of my article—nice guess, though) used to entertain dignitaries to the White House by playing a game in which they raced each other across a field. If they encountered an obstacle, they had to go over it, under it, or through it, but never around it. In other words—embrace the obstacle. Let it build both your mind and your body. Instead of racing to the river, jump in and keep going. I’m sure Roosevelt’s guests thanked him.
So I wasn’t whipped. There may yet be a way to challenge myself while providing for the practicality of pet parenthood.
The upshot is that I now have an RV parked in front of my house. A glorified tent, if you will. Itinerary is still in developmental stages, but like Teddy Roosevelt and the subject of my article, I’m ready to grow my mind, my skills, and my character. To live off less. To live closer to God’s creation. To push beyond my comfort zones. Molly and I will be chronicling our journeys here at Embark on Adventure, so stay tuned!
The best way to fail is never to try.