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Create Your Own Simple, Primal Challenge

Find out What Happens When You Say, “I’ll Take This Watch”

Illustration of owl and butterfly in woods

Illustration Credit: Peeking Over by Casey Roberts

Since my first vision quest 18 years ago, I’ve made a commitment to go out into the wilderness every year alone and fast, typically for three days and nights. This sacred time gives me the opportunity to contemplate my life and to renew my commitment to my life’s purpose. But this year I did something different. Inspired by a teenage experience as an Eagle Scout and perhaps by that pivotal line in so many adventure movies, “I’ll take this watch!” I decided to create a primal challenge: to build a fire at sunset and keep it burning until sunrise.I also committed to three guidelines:I would use only one match and dry wood shavings to light my fire.I would have a legal fire, which meant waiting until the beginning of the rainy season.I would burn only wood I brought in. On my way into the mountains, I stopped by a friend’s house and stacked two rows of split wood into the back of my Jeep. After contemplating it for a few moments I stuffed in a couple more logs, muttering, “I hope this is enough!”The place I chose for my vigil was on a ledge deep in the forest a couple of miles from any paved road. Since th …

For more about Robert Wagner’s vision quest, go to

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