Long ago when I was young, I used to dream of living in a log cabin on a farm in the hills. I had grown up in the suburbs and I thought it was boring. School was boring too. I wanted to live far out in the country where nobody would bother me. I didn’t want to do boring school work anymore. I wanted to hunt and fish and swim and explore caves—whenever I wanted to. I wanted to be strong and independent and spend most of my time alone.
So, the summer after I graduated from high school, I decided to try out living off the land for a while. I found a place to camp on a farm beside a creek. I set up a tent made out of a ragged, worn old bedspread to keep myself and my things dry. I gathered some rocks and made a circle to build my campfire in. Ah, this was nice. Just like Davy Crockett.
The only real “living off the land” I did was to catch a fish and cook it. That wasn’t all that much fun—I don’t really like the taste of fish. I also quickly found out that being all alone wasn’t fun for long. I started to wish I had somebody with me to talk to.
Then in the middle of the night, my plan suddenly changed. A tremendous thunderstorm came and I quickly found out that my tent was useless. The pouring rain came right through it, soaking me, my clothes and everything else I had with me. It didn’t take me long to wake up and realize that I had to find another place to sleep.
I was miserable. Quickly I trotted through the wet pasture grass as the cold rain pelted down on me. I had to wade the creek to get back to my car, but I couldn’t have gotten much wetter anyway. I was soaked, cold, sleepy and miserable. Living off the land was losing its appeal for me.
I drove into the nearby little town, parked in an empty lot and tried to sleep in my car. The rain and thunder kept coming for a while, then began to pass away. But sleeping was hard to do in my wet clothes. How I wished that I was warm, dry and with friends. What a long night that was!
Slowly the hours dragged by and the sky grew light. But still nothing was moving in the little town and I had to wait more hours before the town woke up and I could go to a restaurant and buy myself some breakfast.
I spent the rest of my vacation staying with my Uncle Pete and his family on his farm. That was fun.
I had learned that I didn’t know myself very well. I had thought that I would like living alone in the woods, but I didn’t. I thought it would be fun to catch my own food, but it wasn’t. I had thought I knew how to make a good camp, but I didn’t. Oh, I enjoyed the fishing and swimming in the creek. I had enjoyed not having any school assignments to do. But all by myself, I soon got bored and lonesome.
The moral of the story, little buddies is that you need to get to know yourself. You need to read lots of books, meet lots of people, go lots of places and do lots of different things. That way, you learn what you like to do, what you’re good at and how to get along with other people. These are all important life lessons.