A man reaches a river, and ponders how to cross.

He looks out, and sees that the river is far too wide to swim, lest he tire and drown. He would have tried making a raft, but there were no trees in sight, nor any other manner of building material. Stumped but determined, decided to follow the river until he reached a point where the river narrows, or where he could find materials to construct a raft.

Heading out, he went upriver until he came to a lake. In the middle of the lake there was a small island with four trees. “I could make it to the island, it isn’t too far. And if I tire too much, I’ll rest. I can even build a raft for the remaining journey if I so choose,” he said.

Plunging into the water, he found that the cold sapped the energy far from him far faster than he expected, and by the time he reached the island he had nearly drowned several times due to his level of exhaustion. Dragging himself onto shore, and up to the relative shelter of the four trees, he curled up and his consciousness faded.

Waking suddenly, slightly more rested, and realizing just how close he was to life threatening hypothermia, he began to fell a tree in the manner that he had been instructed as a young boy. After taking down the other three, he used their branches to fix the four trees together the best that he could, and then labored to push the raft into the water.

By the time he reached the opposite end of the lake, he was battered. Staying on course had taken all of his strength, and nearly all his will to continue. Even when he became aware of the flashing lights and rush of men in reflective clothing lifting him onto a stretcher, he felt that what he had endured had broken him so completely, that any life regained may not be worth the enduring pain that would be with him until the end. He realized that there was nothing inherently valuable about his experience. He didn’t feel as though he learned something about life, love, or risk. He couldn’t look back fondly on any one instance. He didn’t even see it being a funny story that he’d one day tell his grand children. The only solace he could find in his experience was that at least it wasn’t frequently reposted on r/jokes.

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