A Lesson Learned by Eric King - HTML preview
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IIThe Rolling Stones once sang, “You can’t always get what you want”
and maybe you cant.
But what if you could?
The two sweaty friends were exhausted from yard work–
because thats what they called clearing the rainforest – so they
rested up in the L-shaped clearing, a pasture, at the top of the hill
where they planned to build their cabin. It was already open land
because of its height, angle and a confluence of rocks. Perfect.
Getting the way carved up here was the challenge, but still– now
look. From up high they stared down at the moving river and at their
plane resting against the shore, and then out at the green, green
rainforest. You cant always get what you want, but what if you could?
Would you? Eke and Bill came to Honduras to find out. Birds were singing,
and these werent robins. Amazing. For just a moment they had a
chance to look and reflect. Of course, Bill didnt have much reflection
in him so he just started singing cartoon songs – “Were going on a
ship; were going on a ship”. Ah yes. It was a classic cartoon with
both characters in the end, stranded on an island– each eying the
other as food. The skinny one became a hallucinogenic hot dog while
the chubby one morphed through the others hunger into a
Bill and Eke both had seen that cartoon a bunch of times. Back in
the day, that was what they did, a Saturday morning ritual – they
called it “Drugs with Bugs”. Bugs Bunny and others provided a lot of
entertainment for these two – back in the day.
The sun was beginning its slow descent. It was afternoon.
Animals chattered. All of it was a feast for the senses. Civilization,
and Massachusetts were very, very far away. The buzz, Eke realized,
was intense. Yet he drank no alcohol; took no drugs. It just was.
And it was a good thing he took nothing at all. There was still a lot
of work to do. A lot. They had already cleared a swath of land down
by the river and a path up to a bigger swath of land a little ways up the hill. That was where they planned to set up camp. So now they
stood and gazed out at the grand view one more time, and then
headed back down the hill to the plane. They needed to unload and
set up camp. They needed to get back to the basic concept of doing
whatever it takes to survive. They came here to challenge
Back at the plane, Bill pulled out a rifle. “Wonder what kinda eats
are around here?” he said. Then he smiled at Eke. “This sure is a
different kinda grocery story, eh?”
Eke smiled back at his friend. “At least checkout should be easy.”
“Still, I get the feeling the meat might not volunteer to be cooked
the way it does at Stop N Shop.”
A bird flew overhead.
“See,” said Bill.
“You expect it to just land here for you to shoot it?”
“Yes, Eke, I do.”
Eke grinned. “I know you do, Bill. Now put the gun down and lets
do some work. You know we brought hamburger in the cooler for
tonight. Therell be plenty of time for shooting later.” In fact, Eke had never really wanted to hunt, never wanted to test himself against a
“Just one shot,” said Bill.
“Grab the sled.” Eke could only take so much of Bills mischief.
Bill grabbed the sled. They brought along a toboggan to pull their
gear uphill. Bill reached in and dragged it out of the top of the planes
compartment. It was stacked upon everything else, which they would
soon begin to stack on the toboggan so they could pull it towards the
First they packed the sled with their hiking packs filled with
clothes, tents and the cooler with the hamburger in it. Although they
were only here on this first trip for a couple of weeks before they
planned to fly back for more supplies, they didnt bring anything else
except dry food, like pasta, plus some canned food– Spam– and
also some energy bars. They both expected to be using their rifles
soon. And their fishing poles. Spam, after all, is Spam.
Once the sled was loaded they both realized at the same moment
the one bit of preparation they had skipped entirely– physical
training. Though they were both carpenters and spent plenty of time doing actual physical work; that was different than being in shape and
especially being in shape to pull a toboggan up a rocky slope.
“This is going to be heavy,” said Eke.
“Hard work wont kill you,” Bill spoke.
“Yeah, but why risk it?” Eke replied. Of course, he knew the
answer for now- because he had to. There was no one else but the
two of them. They came here to challenge themselves. And so they
each grabbed a rope attached to the front eyehooks on the sled and
nodded at each other.
“Ready?” asked Bill.
Bill continued as count man. “One, two three,” and then they
budged the barge into movement. Getting started is often the hardest
action of all. As the initial burst faded they both instinctively went
towards the grassy edge on the right, up the steep and slippery rock
towards the middle and all the land they cleared.
Up they pulled. Eke felt his muscles strain, especially in his legs.
The rope dug into his shoulder. Up. Sweat rolled down his cheek. Up.
The sled scraped against the rocks, making a grinding sound. His
body already hurt. Up. Back in Massachusetts – back home– doing mindless work was
good for the mind, Eke decided. A long time ago he figured that out. It
was during the mindless manual labor that thoughts appeared. Out of
nowhere, thoughts that turned into words and thoughts that turned
into dreams and thoughts that turned into…Honduras.
They wanted adventure. They wanted to believe in something all
the way, the way people did in the old days. What they wanted was
romantically fuzzy- but right now they wanted to get the sled up the
And finally at the site, they stopped, settled the sled in a spot
where it wouldnt slide and let go.
“I bet there are oxen on the other side of the hill laughing their
asses off right now,” said Eke, stretching.
“Do ya think?”
Eke wanted to just stretch his body out on the clearing. But Bill is
hyper-competitive and this friendship has, in many ways, been based
on competition and the desire to one up the other. Rest? Pussy! I’ll
take another load myself. Eke could hear Bill in his head. He
stretched one more time and then started at the sled. Of course, Bill was just as tired and was actually hoping Eke
would suggest a rest but sincehe didnt, Bill knew he couldnt. It was
these dumb circles that sometimes got them in trouble and
sometimes got a lot accomplished. They unloaded the sled in 15
minutes and had both tents set up in another 15. Neither one would
But after another sled load, the natural five-minute rest turned into
sitting, cooking fat sizzling burgers over propane and listening to the
animals and watching the sun settle over the green of the jungle.
Theyd been dreaming of this since they were teenagers. The
smell of meat cooking on the grill made Ekes mouth water. He was tired.