Now what? Things were changing so fast. The way he’d lived before was a thing of the past. Of course that was true of every moment, but this felt different. All at once the world had become smaller. It seemed only yesterday that it was still big and wild and full of wonder. That’s why he’d gone into the woods, along the rivers, over the sea. The feeling of discovering incredible unknowns. Answering the question of what lay beyond the next bend and over the next hill.
From the hill overlooking his town he watched. He’d been doing that—watching and thinking—for most of the day. One question washed back and forth, like waves: what now? What use was there for him to explore? What good was exploration when merchants had maps and scholars had books? What could he offer that their papers couldn’t?
On the horizon a boat came into view. A mixture of anger and curiosity swelled. Anger at the change, anger that the old ways were dying. It was like watching an elder pass. When he thought of it that way it wasn’t so bad. Didn’t the dead go Valhalla? And curiosity. What came next? That was the question that continued to ebb and flow.
Towards evening he made a decision. He didn’t know if it was the right one, but it was a place to start. He would still explore, still go on adventures, but they would be of a new sort. He would learn all he could of this new world. He would read, talk, debate, and discover the frontiers in his mind.