This I Believe

Scott - Santa Monica, California
Entered on September 24, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe the road less traveled teaches far more than roads made for easy passage, that the struggle of the road less traveled builds character and self-esteem and is worth every bit of danger, hardship and frustration.

In 1991, when I was 20 years old, I left college and moved to northern Manitoba Canada to live like Grizzly Adams, much to the chagrin of my family and friends. For ten months, I lived in a log cabin on The Little Beaver River surrounded by moose, mosquitoes, bears, and 40 below zero temperatures. With no electricity, plumbing, communications, hospitals or grocery stores, everything was a struggle. The nearest town, Churchill, Manitoba, was 120 miles away, and I had to chop wood and carry water everyday just to survive. And, with no way out except to canoe or snowshoe, I was forced to be self-reliant and accept responsibility for my actions — for better or worse.

Living in the bush shaped who I am today and taught me lessons I could not have learned in civilization. Everything was hard work. I had to fish or hunt for my food while constantly watching for predators like polar bears and black bears. A simple cup of hot tea required me to chop wood, build a fire, haul water up from the river and then wait for it to boil. Anything and everything required patience and some type of physical activity – bending, stooping, reaching, walking, hauling, and climbing. I’ve never been so lean, strong and happy.

I’d be lying to say it wasn’t miserable at times. After all, I grew up with fast food and remote controls too. There were many times that year when I longed for a chainsaw instead of an axe, a computer instead of a pen, and central heat instead of a wood stove. “Roughing it” gave me a new appreciation for the amazing conveniences of civilization. In fact, the never-ending chore of chopping wood and carrying water has made running hot water my favorite modern convenience. To this day, I would rather live without electricity than potable water hot on demand.

Today, I’m 36 and live in Santa Monica, California, with all the amenities one could ever want. Nevertheless, I still long for the road less traveled because it never fails to make life more interesting, teach me something new and make me stronger. Leaving college in 1991 to live in a remote cabin in Canada, despite the conventional wisdom of my loving family and friends, taught me about the power of the road less traveled. It was there I learned powerful lessons about humility, self-reliance, patience, perseverance, hard work and gratitude. For those lessons alone, I’ll always believe in the road less traveled.