Life Lesson #4 From Camel’s Hump


#4      Sometimes, when we think we’re in it alone, it’s good to remember that others have gone before.


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See the stairs in this picture?


I wondered, as I climbed these steps, who had laid them? How long had it taken?  Was it a large group? Did they laugh while they placed each heavy boulder in place? Did anyone get hurt? Whoever it was, however long it took them, I appreciated their efforts. They had gone before and, as a result, my way was easier.


Someone else is making our way here a tad more fun. Do you remember this photo of Camel’s Hump from afar?  I posted it July 8, at the beginning of this 13-part series.


Camel's Hump from afar
Camel’s Hump from afar


My Scots-African-Brit buddy, Ian Mathie, sent me this photo he took of his own “Camel’s hump.”


Special thanks to Ian Mathie
Special thanks to Ian Mathie


I’m tickled to see how similar the two camels’ humps are.  Thanks, Ian.


How about you? What places in your life have been made easier because of those who had gone before you? 


[learn_more caption=”Did you miss the earlier posts in this series?  If so, here are the links:”]

#13    When the going gets tough, each step is of equal importance.

#12    Sometimes, perseverence is more important than having fun.

#11    Sometimes, there is no single, absolutely right place to put your foot.

#10   Sometimes, when we try to follow the signs, it ends in disaster.

#9     Sometimes, the path we need to take doesn’t look like a path at all.

#8     Sometimes, we just have to stop and listen.

#7     Sometimes, we just have to stop and stare at the view.

#6     Sometimes, it’s nice to have a reminder that we’re going in the right direction.

#5    Sometimes, it doesn’t matter which way we go.


11 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I have a small group of writer friends in whose footsteps I follow. (You know who you are!) Their paving stones, bread crumbs (lots of metaphors here) ease the passage over the humps.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Awww shucks, Marian. Careful the birds don’t eat those bread crumbs. Though methinks you’ll do just fine if they do.

  2. Joan Z. Rough
    | Reply

    What first comes to mind is those special friends and writers like you, Shirley and Kathy who have already published and inspired me, making my road to publication less hazardous. Love to you all!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      You and Marian, two peas in a (somewhat expansive) pod. We need that picture of those Adirondack chairs.

  3. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Generations of women (and men, too) fought and struggled so I could have an education and access to birth control. The generation of women historians who published books and articles just before I started grad school on “women’s history,” influenced my studies.
    My grandparents immigrated from Russia before WWI, ensuring that their children and grandchildren would have opportunities they did not have.

    And so many marvelous inventions and conveniences we have today that certainly make our lives here in the US run more smoothly and comfortably. I often think of those inventors who came before, and those who will come later.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Merril. I’m struck by the
      gratitude that you’ve expressed here. I think also of the women who sacrificed so that I could vote … So many have gone before. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    Tromping across a wild and desolate part of the Sahara known as the Tibesti Mountains in 1977, I remember wondering when the last person had been where I now walked. Had it been recently or perhaps back during the second World War? I came to an escarpment which had a number of fissures in it, well above the desert floor. Out of sheer curiosity and nosiness, I climbed up to look in one of them. Imagine my surprise to see the walls covered in prehistoric cave paintings of animals long extinct in the area. Indeed the images included trees and grass, of which there was no longer the slightest sign in that dry, desolate place for they had died and crumbled to dust aeons before.

    But someone had undoubtedly been there before me, for they had painted the images I now saw. Sad that I had run out of film, I did a few sketches in my notebook, and then moved on. Two years later I was surprised to see photographs of the same cave paintings in a Paris magazine, claiming that a team of French archaeologists had just discovered them after 30,000 years unseen.

    So who else, like me, saw them first and for whatever reason, left them unrecorded and unreported? There was probably someone, if only a man wandering with his camels, as I was.

    I blessed my camel’s hump on that trip, it gave her (and me) the resilience to reach the next waterhole, three days further on!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you, Ian, for another story of wonder and awe. I would love to watch you, with grandchildren on you knee, telling them tales. How lucky they would be.

      • Ian Mathie
        | Reply

        First they’re going to have to learn something other than English. I have a deal with one daughter that later this year I’ll start speaking to her little on only in French. Then I’ll tell her the stories in French. It might also motivate me to get on with translating my books, since nobody else seems to want to, even though my publisher recently relocated there. He’s still only publishing them in English, so I might submit my next manuscript in French and see how he reacts!
        I used to tell Nina exciting bedtime stories stories about a large beastie who went by the name of Herbert Heaps Hippopotamus. He had a brother, Hubert Humphrey Hippopotamus, who also figured in the stories, but he was a chartered accountant and lived in Baingstoke because he liked the name of the place so much and that was the only job available there. I’ve already written some of them down and one of these days they’ll form another exciting book.
        My camel’s hump is responsible for many and varied things!

  5. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Ian, I’m sure you know the research in bi-lingual kids. It’s a fantastic asset to be raised with more than one language. How old is this “little one?” Is she your only g’kid? And Hubert Humphrey Hippo? Was this back in the 60s?

    • Ian Mathie
      | Reply

      Pip, the granddaughter in question is now two and a half. We have another one, ten months older, but her mum says she isn’t ready for foreign languages yet. WE also have a new (17 weeks) grandson, but he’s only into gurgling so far.

      HHH first appeared about 31 years ago when I had taken Nina (aged 7 then) and a friend of hers on a camping holiday. At bedtime she said “Daddy, tell us a story”, so I did, and HHH was born. There was a lot of giggling and the following morning the people in the tent next to ours mover their tent five feet closer to us. They said it was because there were stones in the ground sticking up under their beds, but the giggling from their tent that night gave the game away.

      HHH and HHH had a whole gang of unlikely friends, all with silly names, who got up to unspeakable things and had great adventures at the seaside, at the funfair, playing cricket, and consuming gallons of ice cream, Guinness and Chelsea Buns by the trayful.

      Later, Nina asked me to write the stories down, and she still giggles at them thirty + years later. But they are not stories for reading alone, they are for telling or reading aloud at bedtime, and then kids really get engaged.

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