Three or four weeks ago, I was grousing to God and my wife that it had been a long time since I read anything of substance—meaning something that touched me or motivated me. Something I could quote to my friends.
It’s not that I have no adventure going on. We are babysitting a Golden Doodle dog and a cat. Talk about adventure! The dog showered with me yesterday while the cat sat on the tub and watched. How much more adventure can I handle?
My friend Bill McConnell gave me a book a couple of years ago that I never got around to reading called “Love Does” by Bob Goff. I put it on the reading table on the front porch. I got a Kindle ad for Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I learned to live a better story.” Then, I heard about Theodore Roosevelt’s expedition down the River of Doubt to the Amazon River and his self-doubt after his defeat for a third presidential term. So, I sat on Carole’s cozy and welcoming beautiful front porch with coffee and my stack of books—hard copy and digital. Have I got stuff to quote!
I am not exaggerating! Roosevelt’s trip into the rain forest and then on the River of Doubt keeps me awake. The descriptions of killer natives, the lists of snakes, insects, and scars of battles with piranhas…. The men were aware that they were constantly watched by human and non-human predators. One expedition officer says he would lie awake in his hammock at night waiting for the next sound—the silence would be broken by a scream of creature he was later told to be from a howler monkey whose scream can be heard three miles away.
“Let there be the least break in the harmony of sound,” Cherrie observed, “and instantly there succeeds a deathlike silence, while all the living things wait in dread for the inevitable shriek that follows the night prowler’s stealthy spring.” (River of Doubt, Candice Millard, 2005 Doubleday Broadway Books)
Ms. Millard says, “The Amazon’s sudden, inexplicable sounds were especially terrifying at night, when they were all in the pitch-black forest with no way to see a potential attacker and no sure means of escape.”
I now make sure my Donald Duck night light is turned on. I’m sure my dreams have been influenced by the elephant-size dog and the lonely cat demanding to sleep between Carole and me. Talk about a jungle.
Bob Goff is an attorney and advocate for children in Uganda. What an adventure his life is. Donald Miller is a writer (Blue Like Jazz) who wants his life to be a better story. Goff tells about building a big house reachable only by plane or boat where he hosts world leaders to talk about their hopes and to talk with each other.
The Miller chapter I read this morning is about his adventure of kayaking in the northwest and seeing a huge house in a remote location. The man standing on the deck was yelling, “Are you hungry.” Miller and his companions ate lunch with—you guessed it—Bob Goff, his three kids and wife that I had been reading about in Love Does. It was like two unrelated worlds got together on Carole’s front porch this morning to talk about adventuring. And I got to listen in.
Speaking of adventure. If you’ll excuse me, the dog wants to go out. It takes me a few minutes to get my pith helmet and mosquito netting on.
D. Dean Benton
Benton Quest House