Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lost in the woods



Can a woodsman actually get lost? Sounds like a simple question, but it isn't. It's a matter of perspective, but the seasoned woodsman is always at home in the woods. He may not know exactly where he is, or which way he needs to go, but he is comfortable enough being where he is that he is not really lost. He is in the woods. The same thing probably holds true for the sailor, or at least some. Again like the woodsman, the sailor is at home on the sea, and like the woodsman, he knows the signs and features that guide him.

To understand this, take it in another direction. Leon Russell has a song named "Out in the Woods." In a recording of a live performance he tells the audience the source of the chorus words, which as best as I can spell them phonetically are "dola koo tanga, dola koo tada." How an Oklahoma rocker met a Zulu would a be story in itself, but he said he did and as he was looking for words for the song he asked the man what were the words in Zulu for "lost in the woods." As Russell put it, the man looked puzzled for a moment and then said, "Zulus don't get lost in the woods. There are no words for that." In the ensuing conversation they decided on those words above which translated from the Zulu words mean "a man gone crazy." That was the best they could come up with as a metaphor for lost in the woods.

Think about this. Can you get lost in your own house, over even your yard? Most likely not. It has to do with comfort zone and knowledge. A woodsman might not recognize where he is at the moment. But he knows he is in the woods and most likely how he got there and where he needs to go if he needs to go anywhere.

Here's what one skookum Alaskan did in that circumstance. I have been talking about woodsmen, that's generic and not meant to exclude woman. This happened to a woman. During the Iditarod race she was moving along the south coast of the Seward Peninsula, which is the last 150 or so miles before Nome. Sometimes on that coast there are very few landmarks to position yourself. At one point she realized she had missed the trail and been going for some time in a wrong direction. Now, is that lost? She knew she had done it and she knew she had to get back to the trail. What did she do? I love this phrase and have used it a time or two when it fits. "I sat down and wrote it out in the snow." What she did is stop and with a finger retraced her movements drawing in the snow, where she had taken turns, that sort of thing, and eventually she figured out what she had to do and in short order found the correct trail. That's not lost, that's simply not being where you want to be at the moment. Even for someone like me who has never run that race, I know in that area the ocean is to the south of me and mountains are to the north. And to get to Nome I want the ocean on my left and the mountains on my right. That gets you heading west. You are either going to hit Nome, or if the ice is right, Kamchatka.

Obviously there is no definitive answer to the question. At the point of feeling lost, it is not time to panic, it is time to "sit down and write it out in the snow."

Stranger in a strange land: Recalling Leon Russell

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, I got lost in the woods one time. Down here in South Carolina one of the few smart things the glorious elected leaders ever did was create a bunch of state parks. Now these parks are relatively small in most cases but the ones in the Northwestern park of the state are sizeable.

    My National Guard unit was doing a map reading exercise with all of us carrying a compass, map, and enough water for what was suppose to be a just "three hour tour."

    I was teamed with two other guys and long story short we had a disagreement about landmarks. We got lost and spent hours fighting over what the proper corrective action.

    Luckily for us we came upon a county road and caught a ride back to the starting point. It took forvere to live that one down.

    ReplyDelete
  2. --Beach Bum-- was that you. During a National Guard war game my buddy and I who were goofing off actually captured the enemy commander, who oddly was lost in the woods

    ReplyDelete

Interesting quotations

"In the final analysis your life is only as good as the background music you dance to." – that was me

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"You want to feel alive until the day you croak" – Frank Gallagher Shameless

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"Religious Freedom is not about stopping persecution; it’s about being the one who gets to do it. Glory!" – Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's best Christian

It doesn't matter what you write, it only matters that you write.

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"I was the only person up on the hill with both racing numbers and a handicapped placard." – Kitty Delorey Fleischman, a grandmother who occasionally still races her Porsche in hill climbs.

Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day. – anon

"Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool." – Mark Twain

Shit happens; you just come up with a different plan. – Kitty

Your body is not a temple. It's an amusement park. – Anthony Bourdain

Never too late for a happy childhood – Berkley Breathed

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The non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

We never comprehend how heavy the things are we insist on carrying until we set them down. jd

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

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If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

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I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

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It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio talk show host

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve