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Simon Says, “Square up to your personal monkey bridge and then just do

Your old friend Simon tells this story from his youth. “The
monkey bridge loomed monstrously between us and success. If perchance you do
not know about monkey bridges, picture and learn.”

Jim and I were twelve and had our sights on being Eagle Scouts. Back
then, you could not get there without a hiking merit badge; and that only came
a few miles after a mandatory twenty mile hike.

The monster hike day started early and was going well for the first
five or six miles; and then came the monster hill. Twelve-year-old boys like to
refer to most anything as monsters, e. g., monster sandwiches, monster hits
into left field, and monster anything else meeting their varying standard for
big. But the monster hill really was a monster.

Jim and I just sat there for a while, saying things like,
“There’s the monster hill,” and “It’s a monster sure

This went on for a while when I asked, “How are we ever going to
get all the way up that monster?”

Without a second thought and with the certainty of all twelve-year-olds,
Jim said, “We are going to just do it;” and do it we did.

Things went fine for a few more miles until it started to rain. The
further we hiked, the more it rained, and the more soaked we got. Even that was
not all that bad until we were about half way across a field and up to our
canteens in mud. Between us and the trail into the woods was a creek, nearly
out of its banks and rushing south, if you know what I mean.

I asked Jim, “How do we get across this monster creek?”

His approach had not changed. “We just do it;” and do it we

A few miles along the path into the woods, we suddenly understood not
all monsters are created equal. There it was: the monster monkey bridge looming
terrifyingly between us and our goal.

A rope was stretched across a ravine, with two more ropes stretched
side-by-side above the first. The only way across, the only path to our success
was to walk the bottom rope while holding on to the other two. If the picture
is not clear, just think of the monkey bridge as the mother of all monsters.

Well, suffice it to say we were both brought up short and forced to
seriously consider our options. Whatever our choices, neither of us was going
to be the first to just sit down and cry. Perhaps our best strategy would be to
trudge back through the mud and see if we could get away with simply telling
everyone we had hiked twenty miles.

Jim flinched first. “How can we ever get across this monster? We
are going to die.”

My barely contained terror was about to consume me; but I said it
anyway. “We are going to just do it;” and do it we did.

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