When Robert Redford grew a full beard to play fictional mountain man Jeremiah Johnson- he was portraying the kind of western spirit held by men like the real-life present-day Jeremy Johnson, an Oregon elk hunter.
It takes a full year for a man like Jeremy to plan an elk hunting trip. There are a lot of steps in planning, in saving the money, in gathering the equipment, in buying the hunting tag, in just getting out there in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Eastern Oregon. So after just one day of hunting you couldn’t really blame him for being a little put out when he returned to find his tent, stove, extra clothes, extra bow and bedding had all been taken by thieves leaving Jeremy 10 miles from the road with little more than the clothes on his back. It was cold at 8,000 feet and an icy storm had blown in. But despite all that Jeremy didn’t pack it in.
This was indeed some adversity that would take every ounce of ingenuity and stick-to-it-tiveness that he could muster. Jeremy stayed one night in an extra tent of some fellow hunters, otherwise he slept out in his thin sleeping bag. Cold, windy weather made the elk hard to follow. Jeremy only managed to make a fire twice in a week.
But seven days after his camp had been stolen leaving him adrift in the wild, Jeremy spotted four bucks and circled around. With one arrow he dropped his buck.
“I have learned to embrace adversity,” Jeremy was later quoted as saying. “After losing the family business to a fire, after another fire that destroyed my home, after a fight with cancer, I don’t want to waste time whining, complaining about my situation, or giving up. Instead I want to milk every last lesson out of adversity and turn it into a growing experience.”