Reception. Observation. Perception. Emotion.

Man vs Nature

Man loses.

At least this man does. Why is nature, this allegedly impersonal force, out to get me? You be the judge.

Last weekend a group of friends and I decided upon the harmless measure of going hiking in the Smokies. We camped on Friday—my new bag was gloriously cozy, though I failed to incorporate an adequate pillow or pillow substitute—and awoke to magnificent weather which would last all day long. Sounds okay so far, right? But little did I know that the seemingly insignificant woodland creature that randomly darted just to the left of our vehicle the night before would portend certain doom. Or at least that’s the sort of unfounded paranoia that began to plague my thoughts as the day wore on.

We—and by we, I mean a guy with the last name McNight—figured our day hike should consist of a 12-mile loop that would require us to elevate roughly 3000 feet during the first third of the journey, then coast back down the rest of the way. With but a tad more research of the Anthony Creek Trail, our intrepid guide would have noted such phrases as “anticipate the need for water,” “a strenuous hike,” and “despite the difficulty of the hike” peppered liberally throughout its description. These findings would have coalesced with the similarly useful observation that I personally had not gone walking for more than a mile in several months (and I do mean several). But we are MEN! We crave a good challenge! Yet I submit that anyone possessing a cursory knowledge of high-school literature should know by now that when man and nature face off, nature always lays the smack down.

Side note: Attempts to search the internet for prime examples of Man versus Nature in literature proved difficult, leading me to believe there is a vast conspiracy involving high-school teachers and their resolute refusal to allow theme topics to appear on the world wide web. Deep down, I think we all suspected they had that kind of power.

Needless to say, by the time this ghastly struggle against mind and body drew to its close, my feet felt like they were being pounded by several meat tenderizers, and my left kneecap was presumably beginning to whittle my shin bone to dust. During that final mile I vowed never again to engage nature in such a blatant one-on-one battle. We all know that the woodland creatures are on his side anyway, and you don’t mess around with woodland creatures.

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  1. And this, my friend, is why I much prefer city living, where nature is confined to the least-trampled parts of a sidewalk or a zoo, where the only woodland creature that you need to worry about is a squirrel (and the occasional pigeon), and where air-conditioned shops containing not only water, but also soda, milk, juice, and every other beverage imaginable, liberally line smooth, gently-sloped streets.

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