04 – The Phoenix Has Risen
Dear Homo Sapiens of Earth:
His downhill trek was far more uplifting than his uphill climb. For one thing, on his way down, he was facing the stunning panorama of the teaming savannah thousands of feet below, rather than the rocks right in his face while he was climbing the days before. For another, he descended through five vegetation zones: the summit zone, the highland desert, the heather and moorland, the forest or jungle, and the “farmland zone”.
But the difference was more spiritual than physical. On his way up the mountain, his “third eye” was closed; now, on his way down, it was wide open. He could have looked at the same Lobelia tree on his way up and his way down, but on the way up, it was just something he had to walk around, and on the way down, it stopped him in his tracks with its own exquisite note in the visual symphony of botanical delights. While he could have descended the 18,000 feet in one go, he did not make it back to the used jeep he bought in Arusha until the third day. And then, as I knew it would, reality came crashing down on him again.
It happened when he first caught sight of the jeep from atop a low cliff overlooking where it was haphazardly parked. There it sat, baking in the afternoon sun, awaiting his return like a faithful steed which he had abandoned to starve. When he opened the door, it unconditionally welcomed him back. When he turned the key in the ignition, the engine sprang back to life with no reluctance. All these awakened in him a sense of shame. It was when he pressed on its pedal and it began to move, that the question arose in his mind: “Where am I going?”
He thought: “Here I am, undergoing my mid-life crisis which I barely survived, with almost all my money given away and half my life spent, and nothing to show for it. Only if I was born with what I now know. What a better man by far I could have become today. What great things I would have achieved. What more of a meaningful life I could have led than the one I squandered away. Now, my life is in ruins, with nothing but a self-delusional dream of being a miracle worker. What an excuse of a coward of the highest order. What a despicable ploy of a terminal escapist. Who am I trying to kid? Now, I’m about to embark on another aimless journey to nowhere. And I don’t even know which way to turn my steering wheel…”
“Now, my life is in ruins, with nothing but a self-delusional dream of being a miracle worker. What an excuse of a coward of the highest order. What a despicable ploy of a terminal escapist.” I repeated back to him.
He froze in surprise, that again I did not seem like a figment of his imagination, then exclaimed, “Hey! Don’t I get any privacy around here?”
“You can read my mind too, you know. I have no privacy with you.”
“So, I can have no secret from you?”
“I know all about you. What would you like me to forget?”
“All of it.”
“Including ‘Only if I was born with what I now know. What a better man by far I could have become today. What great things I would have achieved.’?”
“Especially this. ‘Cooda”‘ and ‘wooda’, throw in ‘shooda’, are really not my style.”
“Tell me, is your jeep in good condition?”
“Excellent shape. That’s why I bought it.”
“It’s a 10 year-old off road vehicle. Of course there are some dents here and there, and it could use a paint job. But there’s no rust.”
“You want to wind the ODOMETER Back?”
“Of course not. It would be illegal, and immoral. And it wouldn’t make it run any better, especially since it is running like new.”
“How many more miles can it run?”
“100K to 200K, depending on how it is maintained.”
“Just like my own vehicle having another 35 years or more to live?”
“I was anticipating this.”
“Or reading my mind.”
“So, what’s your point?”
“Consider yourself reborn at 35, with all your accumulated knowledge intact. Your new lifespan is shortened by 35 years, but if you make it to 70, 35 years from now, with what you now know, what a better man by far will you not have become when you get there? What great things can you not have achieved by then? What a masterpiece can you not have made of your life?”
Almost imperceptibly, the jeep began moving forward, the wheel turned with a purpose towards the Serengeti.
“WESTWARD, HO!” he roared.
I am Raminothna,
The Fortunate and the Called Uponn,
at your service.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)