Most people you meet are really helpful and kind, or want to be, especially people that enjoy camping. Some will go to great lengths to help you if they believe in what you are doing or if they see the tragedy or danger of your plight. Generosity can be easy for some people but kindness comes easy for many. Kindness also can be expressed as concern for someone’s or some thing’s welfare.
I was hiking in the woods the other day and found along the trail the mostly stripped skeleton of a dead opossum. What journey brought this little dead animal under my toe? Was it fate? Happenstance? A hunter who didn’t finish the hunt? The opossom’s journey is sadly over, but my heart still feels compassion or empathy for its fate.
Once in California while photographing a live oak from under its low boughs—looking upward toward the sky—down on one knee I heard a peculiar noise. A soft sort of “flup” sound, again and then again. I looked around but saw nothing. Continuing my work it happened again—remarkably then again. Looking down at the dried fallen leaves I observed nearby a little woven lid opening and closing, about the size of a slice of lemon. Someone or some thing was peeking at me from beneath the dead leaves. Closer observation revealed that it was a tarantula in its cocoon-like nest. No. Wait a minute, there was more than one… uh…gulp several…a colony of more than 20 flupping lids I think. Frankly I didn’t take time for an accurate count.
My heart leapt into my throat….. aw crap… I am kneeling in the middle of a colony of tarantulas with tripod and camera gear in short pants and hiking boots. Shades of Indiana Jones! I was able to escape unscathed but not without gaining a much greater respect for the territory of others on which I might carelessly tread. A lesson I apply in some small way each day of my life. People offer a smile at someone who is smiling, Tarantulas are a forgiving lot and I thank them for the kindness of not biting me… instead just offering a friendly “flup” to announce their presence.
The traveling part of my journey physically began in January, 2010 but the planning and preparation part began months earlier. There are many, many people who encouraged me with acts of kindness and words of support. There were a few who kindly contributed by donating some money or a needed service.
If I begin naming names I would surely, unintentionally, leave some people out because there have already been so many. I don’t want this post to sound like an academy awards speech because I really haven’t done anything yet except to ambitiously stand up and face the future with hope, a sense of adventure and a clear recognition of the limits of longevity in any life.
I would however like to share with you from time to time some stories that have given me inspiration. The people who helped, and are still helping me with this blog have been a godsend. I am a church-mouse in the the cathedral of the internet and they have helped me find my way around. They already know, or should, how greatly I appreciate their unrelenting support and bull whipping as needed.
Of course also there was the fine couple from Oklahoma who helped me when I cut my hand. For days they were there helping out with Minna and the suffering, unwillingly left-handed patient.
Here in Edisto I mentioned to a fellow camper in passing that I couldn’t figure out the battery hook-up system for my trailer. I had the parts but not the technical adeptness to make it work. Within a few hours a kindly, if a bit grumpy stranger, ambled onto my campsite declaring his commitment to give a neighbor a hand. He was about five or ten minutes into the explanation when he realized he was looking at a deer in headlights.
“Aw, shit” said he, “I’ll be back in a while”. So it began. A four day unrelenting effort to make my Luciee road worthy in so many ways I have forgotten some. Faulty wiring, propane gas leaks, fuses, electric brakes, interior lights, battery charging options, electrical hook-ups and on it went. Every time I turned around he was under or inside or yelling for tools or calculating grounds: positive and negative current and my ineptitude.
In the end, he announced it was done, as if it might be the seventh day of his creation. Humbly I thanked him.
“What can I do to repay you” I whispered.
“Once,” he said, ” a long while ago a man helped me just for the joy of doing it. I am helping you in repayment of that debt. It is up to you to find someone you can help and repay this debt.”
John, my greatest thanks to you and your dear patient wife.
I finish this post with one final word of thanks to a young, kindly Brian at KMart in Charleston. You are an inspiration to me, thank you.