Ed Rands Kelowna, BC, Canada
Two men are dropped into the middle of an unfamiliar forest, each at a different location. The terrain around them is rough and rugged. The trees are thick, allowing no more than a hundred meters of vision in any direction before the trees converge into a wall.
Both men have been told that somewhere within these woods there lies a cabin. Inside that cabin is everything they've ever wanted in life.
Both men have volunteered to be deposited into this foreign jungle.
One man - we'll call him Bubba - is obviously ill prepared for his new surroundings. His shorts, flowery shirt, and flip-flop sandals suggest Bubba thought he was going to be handed a margarita and sat on a Tahitian beach, rather than dumped into a rocky, thorny, mountainous wilderness.
The other man, John, looks far more prepared. John is wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and hiking boots. Strapped across his back is a full pack. Assorted useful accessories are attached to his belt.
John knows why he is here. He knows what he expects to find in this cabin. Waiting for him inside is a loving family, friends of a certain caliber, and a chest which refills with 20,000 or more US dollars every month because of the way he serves his clients in his particular business. Folded up in John's shirt pocket, available for quick access, is a sheet of paper upon which he has carefully written down, in great detail, everything he expects to find in the cabin. On the back of the same piece of paper, in giant letters, is the reason why he wants these things; why it will be worth any effort.
Bubba, on the other hand, doesn't really know what he expects to find. When he heard this cabin had everything he ever wanted, he jumped at the chance to find it. However, he only has a vague idea that inside he hopes to find someone who will love him, a party of people who think he's awesome for some indeterminate reason, and lots and lots of money. How much money? He has no idea, but he's sure it is a lot! Why does he want it? Because it sounds nice to be loved, famous and rich.
The instant John's feet hit the ground, he detaches a GPS from his belt and pulls out a map from his other shirt pocket. Within a minute John knows exactly where he is. Thanks to having already talked to someone else who has been to this cabin before, there's an X on the map precisely where the cabin should be. John draws a line between his current location and his destination.
Bubba doesn't know where he is. The most accurate he can get is that he's somewhere in North America where it's cool at this time of year.
Now that John is clear on where he is and where he's headed, he pulls up the compass from his belt. He waits about two seconds for the needle to be pointing approximately north, turns to his left and starts walking, even though the needle is still swaying and settling. As the needle finally settles, he changes direction slightly before putting the compass away. John's strides are long and confident, an ideal speed for the current terrain.
Meanwhile, Bubba is scratching some body part that's itchy, then takes a few minutes to urinate because of a seemingly urgent need to go, being certain that hiking on a full bladder will be uncomfortable. Once he's relieved, Bubba looks around. With 360 degrees of choice, he's uncertain which way to start walking. After a few minutes of confusion, a bird zips by, winging its way through the trees. Seeming as good as any, Bubba heads off in the same direction as the bird. The pace is quite slow. Bubba feels no need to hurry. The cabin is probably just over the hill.
As he strolls, Bubba starts to hear in his mind the voices of his supposed friends and well-meaning family, who were very vocal they thought Bubba was nuts when he informed them of this intended adventure. As his mind clutters with the negative words of others, Bubba's already slow pace gets noticeably slower.
On the other hand, John only told one very trusted, positive mentor of his plans. Everyone else will hear about John's walkabout after he makes it to the cabin. The walking drumbeat in John's mind is a short, powerful self-talk. As it repeats, John's pace quickens.
While gawking around, wondering where the bird went, Bubba trips on a tree root jutting above the dirt. Putting his hands out to stop his face from hitting the ground, he ends up jamming a small, pointy stone into his hand. Bubba turns over and sits down on the ground. As he pulls the pebble from his punctured hand, he loudly curses the obstructive root, the tree for where it grew, and the seed from which it had the audacity to sprout. Not knowing what else to do, Bubba can only leave the wound to bleed and self-clean. He waits right where he fell for a while, staring at the wound, growing angrier about it by the minute. Bubba was certain something like this would happen; bad things are always happening to Bubba.
A couple miles into his journey, John is fording a shallow river. Not seeing it clearly through the moving water, he slips on an angled wet stone, pitches forward and scrapes his shin on a large rock. John gets up, acknowledging his own error, determined to step with more care and purpose as he finishes making his way to shore. Once John reaches the shore, he takes a moment to clean and dress the wound, drawing upon his basic first aid experience. As soon as the matter is taken care of, John picks up his original pace.
Hours later, Bubba is still sitting on the ground where he fell. He's decided that whatever is in that cabin is not worth the pain and effort. He lies down and stares up at the sky through the trees. He feels a deep sense of sadness as time drags on, until, finally, he closes his eyes from exhaustion. Eventually, Bubba dies where he gave up.
Days later, John is still going. Nothing will stop him. He's taken several more bumps and bruises, the path threw up some unexpected obstacles, but John conquered every one because he wanted what was in that cabin, and he knew down to his core why he wanted it.
He's tired, he's sore, he's hungry, but John keeps putting one foot in front of the other until, finally, the forest opens into a beautiful meadow. There in the middle is a magnificent log cabin. With a surge of renewed energy, John rushes to the door and flings it open.
There inside, exactly as he'd called it, was everything John wanted, and better.