“All men die; few men ever really live.”
If that seems like a quote from Braveheart or Thor Ragnarök or Home Improvement (with a grunt), no, it’s from John Eldredge’s best-selling, slightly controversial book called Wild at Heart (2013).
Perhaps the same can be said of women; I wouldn’t know, not having been one.
But, as a man, the quote settles well among my cushions and my comforts – as a lost but longed for ideal. I’m nothing if not an ideologue and wishful thinker.
Eldredge further declares that God designed men to be “dangerous, passionate, alive, and free”. So, yeah, I’m all of those.
That’s why I relish parallel parking. Or the chance to drive in rain, or use a hand saw up a ladder. (Not being permitted to use a chain saw.)
Blood courses hotly through me when I watch Top Gun or The Magnificent Seven. I swell in stature when I face the wind on Ocean Beach or shout at the ref or get asked by my seven-year-old grandson what I did in the war. I straighten to my full 160cm and gild my experiences as an Air Force hangar sweeper.
Trouble is, the more you fantasise about such things, the more the realisation of what a wannabe you are crushes you, and you go back to your beer and custard square.
This was the case the other day when driving back from the big city (not the beer part), where I’d attended a stamp collecting convention, and I found myself thinking, “God, what a wannabe I am,” and at that moment I shot past a hidden exit from the wide, straight road I was travelling, and I thought, “Go on … live a little.” I screeched to a gentle halt, thinking of my tyres and brake pads, and reversed. The road was dusty metal. Veering off as it did immediately to the right, I couldn’t see around the corner. All the better. Let’s do this, Maverick.
Look, it matters not whether you judge me. I’m a wuss. I know it, but the heart of wild man resides within and I’ll take adventure where I can find it, as long as it’s safe. I mean … who wants to be dead? Or hurt? Tentatively wild-at-heart, is me, and I was. I went tentatively what they call “off grid”. Don’t know why. A grid is something I can select on a Spreadsheet, so … But, anyway, I went off it. What could go wrong?
I’ll tell you.
Because you’re expecting a disastrous end to this story, no? So, when, a kilometre in, I stalled in the ford, I thought, no problem. Actually, my first thought was that, surely the water will dry up soon. My second thought was, call the AA. But they didn’t answer. Neither was there dial tone, which meant my mobile was off grid as well. My third thought was, well, being wild at heart, this should be easy enough. I’ll find a tractor.
There wasn’t one within my immediate visual radius so I did what any dangerous, passionate, alive and free man would do: checked in the car’s manual, located and depressed the ECAB (emergency conversion to amphibian button), and jet-boated out of there, back to the main road and home to catch The Chase on tele. Enough adventure to quench this wuss for several weeks, until the wannabe-ism exceeds the instinct for comfort and safety once again.
Wild at heart, chicken in other places. True story. (Some of it.)