Not that long ago, I went on a family hike through the forest of a nearby provincial park. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Sure, family time is great, and I love hiking in the forest, but during the cold, bitter wintertime? When there’s snow to trek through and a wind so cold it numbs your whole face? Not so much. The more I can stay inside during the harsh winter months, the happier I am.
But, seeing as how this was a family hike, I didn’t have much of a choice. And so, with reluctant resignation, I ventured out into the cold.
At first, I was quite unhappy. I lagged along behind everyone else, dragging my boots and hunching my shoulders against the cold. I made the occasional joke and joined in the family conversation every once in a while, but I was looking forward to getting to the end of the hike as soon as possible.
As we walked down the trail, we kept encountering other families who were making quite a bit of noise, disrupting the peace of the forest and eliminating any chances of us seeing some wildlife. We tried to stay back from them but found it difficult, since we were all walking down the same marked path. So when we saw some fresh deer tracks heading across the trail and deeper into the forest, we were only too eager to take it as an opportunity to get away. So, breaking from the beaten path, we set off after the deer with the high hopes of catching a glimpse and maybe even a photograph.
Suddenly, things were more interesting.
I feel like one of the characters from my stories, I thought to myself with some excitement. I imagined that I wasn’t in some regular old snow-covered forest–no! I was walking through a mountain valley, surrounded by my adventurer friends on a desperate hunt for dinner. This deer we were following wasn’t just something beautiful to look at, it was going to feed us for the next week. Finding it wasn’t just something fun to do. It would save our lives.
And so as we pressed on, scanning the snow and always keeping our eyes on the steady trail of hoofprints, I put myself in that situation. I forgot about the cold and the wind. I started walking faster, eager to catch up with the deer and fighting past my fatigue. I imagined the hushed voices of my companions, I cringed with every snapped twig, and I searched the trees around me in case I could spot the creature we were so keenly hunting. Suddenly, there was hunger in my stomach. I wasn’t just craving deer–I was craving adventure.
We kept going on, our excitement building, my companions constantly hushing one another, knowing just how necessary it was that we caught this deer. We’d come so far; it would be the death of us if we scared the deer away now. Then, as we crested a low rise, we saw it. It was just a flash of brown and white as the deer dashed away from us, but it got my blood running with excitement. The thrill of the chase was setting in.
The one who had spotted the deer first beckoned to our bowman, and the two of them led the way in the direction the deer had travelled. I stayed behind, praying that they would find the deer and would have the chance to shoot it, and we travelled deeper and deeper into the forest. Anxiety began to set in before long. We had already walked so far off the path, and if we didn’t find the deer soon, we would have to turn back with empty hands. I tried to keep faith, though. We needed this meat to keep us alive, and there was no way I was going back without any of my friends.
We walked for a few more minutes, not once seeing any sign of the deer, and at last, with heavy hearts, we were forced to stop. Disappointment was palpable in the air. We’d failed the hunt and it was going to cost us.
Suddenly tired, I stood on the crest of a hill and surveyed the forest below me. For a while, I kept my eyes sharp with the desperate hope that I might see the deer again and renew the hunt. But when it was clear that the deer was long gone, I sighed and looked away. Despite the disappointment of my imagined quest, I felt a secret happiness in my chest. Using nothing but my imagination and some deer tracks, I completely changed my perspective of this cold winter hike into something exciting and adventurous. I took something unavoidable and unappealing and made it into something I wanted to do.
Life often hits you with stuff you don’t enjoy and puts you in situations you can’t stand. But every adventure has its low points, and it depends on how the author and the heroes deal with it that makes it exciting and inspiring.
And luckily, imagination still remains separate from reality. I can happily report that neither my family nor I starved from our failed hunt.
What low points in your life have become adventures through imagination or a change of thought?
May you always have the imagination to rewrite the low points in your life and make them into worthy adventures.