Wednesday, August 22, 2007

48 Km in 48 hrs

For a while I've been planning the "man-adventure." Which involved me travelling through the wilderness with food, a tarp, a map and a compass. I know I surprise myself sometimes. Anyhow, I decided to ready myself in stages, and the first stage was to sleep outside in the woods without a tent. I took the opportunity at a retreat center near Guelph. I laid down out my tarp, spread my sleeping bag, and tried sleeping. It was pretty hard, but I was getting through all right. Then something unexpected happened. A long, lone howl broke the night. I was like, "wow, sounded like a coyote or something," it was scary. Then it came again, then another joined in, and another, and another, getting to the point where it sounded like some sort of demonic choir of howling. I was freaked. I grabbed my staff, my knife, and my light and jetted back to the comfort of the retreat center rooms. I found out later they were coy-dogs, a cross between wild dogs and coyotes.

So, needless to say I invested in a tent. My man-adventure now consisted of one less tarp, and plus a tent. I won't recount all the details of this solo-hiking trip. It lasted from Sunday 4pm until Tuesday 4pm. I travelled over 50 Km. It was painful, my feet have never been so blistered and I haven't walked with a limp for a while. I was glad that I got the opportunity to push myself. I think highschool rugby was the last time I pushed through so much pain. I broke my wrist in a rugby game once and continued playing for 2 seasons until I went to the doctor. That was stupid, but it required some serious perseverence.

So physically, the trip was demanding, though I'm a little more broad minded now than how much muscle I can pack on. What did the trip do for me mentally and spiritually? I think I realized I tend to create fears when I'm in unfamiliar situations. Like imagining that every twig snap was some coy-dog coming after me (that only happened once, and it was a real dog, and he was nice). As I got more used to the woods, I became less fearful. I'll keep that in mind when I get scared doing new things.

Spiritually the trip was refreshing. I'll make two small points. One, when it comes to perseverence, ability is a small part of it. I could've gone a 100 Km if I had wanted, but I didn't have the drive. If there was some goal, something I found worthy, I would've walked till my blistered feet were bloody humps. I'm going to make sure I invest more in keeping my vision of future goals fresh.

The second point is, I need Jesus. I found parts of my hike scary and overwhelming. I prayed a lot at night, and trusted that Christ's sovereign plan controlled the motions of any wild beasts or falling tree branches (I camped in the most windy forest imaginable!). This is what I'm most thankful for. As I head to North Africa, I don't want to think I'm there because I am a capable young man - I'm not. My God is though, and it's in his care and power that I tread into new territory.

"Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!"
Ps 24

Monday, August 06, 2007

On being cheap

For whatever reason, I'm a pretty cheap guy. I started saving my money when I was 14, starting a bank account with $50. Once I got it up to $500, which was around 17, I opened up a mutual fund account. I paid into that account religiously, holding onto shares throughout the tech bubble burst, and buying into developing markets, until I came out this year with a 2 000 return on about 7 000. Not bad.

I've skipped meals because I'm away from home and didn't want to spend money on food.

I helped start a club in my church for people who are really cheap. We have a secret way of greeting each other. It's kinda like the stone masons, except we don't charge a lot.

Unfortuately, being cheap doesn't always pay. One time I walked a half hour in the cold to avoid spending a bus ticket on the way to the grocery store. It was snowing, and the windchill was painful. After the half hour I realized I was walking the wrong way, and jumped on the next bus. It took a while for the pain in my legs to subside. I was wearing the fashionable jeans with holes in them.

But things really peaked this past week. Last semester my dentist told me I needed to come in and have my wisdom teeth removed. He said they would "probably" start to poke though and cause me lots of pain. I'm no anti-dentite, but sometimes I think medical professionals are a lot like mechanics, telling you there's stuff wrong with you when there isn't, getting money they don't deserve (I'm sure most are great). So my dentist tells me this, and immediately I think, "sure buddy, wouldn't you like to put me out of commission for a week and get a nice cheque from health insurance. I'm no sucker." So they scheduled me an appointment, and I cancelled. I was pretty proud of myself for seeing through the scam.

Well, last week my cheek started to hurt. Yesterday it was killing. Today I can barely open my mouth wide enough to bite something. I looked in the mirror, stuck a flashlight in my mouth, and sure enough, there's a new tooth entering in on an angle that bites my cheek everytime I close my mouth. ouch.

So, this is the price I pay for being cheap. Tomorrow I'm going to have to phone and beg for an immediate emergency appointment. It doesn't help that I'm leaving for North Africa soon.

Anyways, I'm packing my bike in my luggage to cut down on transportation costs in North Africa, we'll see how that one turns out.