Monday, August 24, 2015
Photo: from the book's Wikipedia page, here.
A very readable, funny and surprisingly informative book, great to read while you're sleeping on the couch in the living room every night so you don't have to put The Cone of Shame on your dog, which will make him (literally) cry, which will keep you awake. It's also good to read any other time.
This book, about Bryson's attempt to walk all 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail, is a good read even if you don't like hiking. It's not about hiking at all. It's about doing something strenuous; it's about stepping out of your comfort zone; it's about chilling out overall, but especially with Nature; it's about disconnecting to all media and connecting to yourself, to Nature, to your inner being. Or, like, whatever.
You get the idea. But, really, stepping away from the cellphone and from the Internet and going for a walk is a really good, healthy idea. You don't have to do so for many months, non-stop, as some people do when they walk the Trail--the whole Trail, from Georgia to Maine. That sounds insane to me, and is just impractical. I mean, we've got lives, right?
But I'll bet your state has its own trails. Even mine does, and I live in the smallest one. So why not just unplug and get out there, even for just a few hours? Maybe there's a trail that traverses your state--and I don't mean Route 95, or even an actual road at all. That's not legal, so don't hike those. But how about a bike path that goes across the state? Walk it in steps, for three hours every Saturday (for example), until you walk the whole thing? Drive to a spot, or, even better, get dropped off at a spot and then get picked up at a later spot. Or take the bus home. Who cares? Just, for God's sake, get out there.
This is Bryson's overall message. He knows it's not easy, but that's why challenges are...um, challenging. That's the point, isn't it? To set a reachable goal for yourself, and then exert yourself to reach it? So what if you don't know the name for every tree, plant or flower you come across? You'll be out there, exercising, getting in shape, accruing better cardio-vascular health. Maybe even shed a few pounds. (I have to mention here that you should consult your physician first, so you can't sue me or Bryson.)
Take this book with you on those jaunts when you need to sit, drink water, eat a little, and rest. It's a breeze to read, and you'll maybe find yourself agreeing with Bryson when he dryly attacks the Trail's administrators' ridiculousness. The Forest Service and other government entities get their comeuppance as well--and they should, when you read what they've done to our natural resources over the years. He takes a potshot at stupid people--I'm talking shockingly dumb here--which I'm all for, as well. (Quick, extremely minor example: People who park their car at a spot on the Trail, walk ten minutes in, walk ten minutes back, and tell their friends that they've "walked the Trail." They do so, on the Trail, while on their cellphones, of course, thereby bringing to the Trail that which the actual walkers are trying to escape from.)
Anyway, sever that technology cord and get on a trail or path near you. And read this book, too, when you can.
P.S.--If you intend to see the upcoming movie, as I do, it's best to read the book first. And see if you agree that casting Nick Nolte in the role of Stephen Katz is a no-brainer.