Skating on Thin Ice

Over the years I have become an adept.

With little trepidation the trapper in Jack London’s tale, To Build a Fire, took to the trail on the frozen river knowing it to be fraught with hidden dangers. His self-confidence, out-weighing his misgivings was, in the end, fatally misplaced.

He knew the risks; there were warning signs. The trek alone to the camp in the depths of an exceptionally cold spell, even his dog sensed the danger. Older more experienced trappers had told him of the possible consequences, the safety net of never undertaking such a journey alone. The necessity of having someone, or something, to fall back on if things should go wrong.

For some time it never once occurs to him that he may not reach his destination safely before nightfall. When after a mishap he is forced to light a fire and rest, his meditation is on his own ability and confidence to overcome the odds rather than the overwhelming evidence of experience and of the facts. He was taking an immense risk and those facts were cold and hard indeed, both literally and figuratively. He presses on anyway, by this time, even if he were to entertain misgivings, there is no going back. He cannot retrace his steps and he is running out of time.

When fear begins to take hold of him and the worst of them are realized, it is too late.

For years I believed I would get to my own destination before nightfall.

Skating on thin ice.Monte Carlo & before sept oct 2013 284


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