Saturday, March 26, 2011

Walden Weekends: Preface

Not too long ago, I decided that I would try to go hiking about once a week - I know, the phrasing there indicated a very strong commitment - and get myself out of the more populated areas as much as I could. My impetus for this decision was purely physical, I thought. I considered that, in the more than probable (to my mind) event of some sort of zombie/robot/nuclear apocalypse, or massive natural disaster, I was not in the kind of shape I would need to be in to get away to relative safety and bring with me at least the minimum I would need for survival, let alone any amount of comfort. I have a tent and sleeping bag, a camp ax, some bottled water, and some air-tight packages of food (granola bars, raisins, I think there’s some beef jerky in there) as well as a sweat shirt and a change of jeans in my truck in case of emergency… but what if the nuclear explosion melts my tires, or the robots steal my gas… or the zombies get confused and start eating my beef jerky? What will I do then?

So I got a back pack and some other supplies, and started hiking every weekend that I could. Physical training. I had, of course, no idea that this would affect me mentally or spiritually. It turns out that going off into the forest, alone, gives you a beautiful opportunity to think about things, to listen to God whispering to you, and to free yourself from the constant stream of input that you get from the world around you. Solitude is simplicity, simplicity is clarity. Not that I’m out there becoming a sage or anything… my ventures have yet to give me the wisdom of C.S. Lewis or Theodore Roosevelt, who also knew the benefits of subtracting themselves from the world, and came to understand it better thereby… If nothing else, I am being constantly reminded of the power nature has over human beings, and the power human beings have over nature, and the responsibility we have to treat those powers with respect. I wish that the wild was more accessible to more people, and that more of the people who access it could be trusted not to destroy it.

It was with this desire to go outside the world that I decided to institute Walden Weekends for myself, starting next weekend. The idea is something of an experiment. I don’t really have any goal for this, no specific desired outcome, just to take myself away from the internet and video games, and generally being lazy and useless (for two days a week anyway… I plan to continue being lazy and useless Monday through Friday) and see what happens. It’s not a complete abandonment of society, but a distillation of sorts. Similar, in a way, to when I was in the Joshua Wilderness Institute at Hume Lake. We were outside of our normal lives, and separate from the rest of the world, but they required that we read newspapers and magazines to ensure that we stayed connected. It wasn’t a community of hermits after all… though, honestly, of all the things they required us to do, that may have been the one that was most difficult for me. So maybe it will be the same with this. Maybe the difficulty won’t be in keeping myself from wanting to go online (The Chive doesn’t really post much on weekends anyway), but in keeping myself from running off into the forest and staying there. I suppose that only time will tell.

So, starting next weekend, I will not be accessible via facebook, email, or words with friends, and will instead be spending that time hiking, reading, writing, (not doing ‘rithmetic) or working on other various projects. I plan to carve a pipe out of madrone, make a couple of left-handed knife sheaths, and work on some barbecue/smoking recipes I’ve been thinking of (provided the weather clears up), and perhaps blogging about my adventures, when I think they're entertaining enough, during the following week. If you have suggestions of books I should read, or projects I could do, please feel free to send them my way.

Thank you for spending the time to read all of this.