I have started reading. I have always read as study, comparing others’ Path to my own to sharpen my understanding but I have not read for reading.
It started with Cheryl Strayed. I watched Wild, mainly because I imagined Reese Witherspoon in choosing this movie had more to offer than her fluffy but sometimes amusng roles, I was right and enjoyed the movie.
But it was a movie, maybe a movie can show depth but a book certainly can.
I also watched Tracks, in fact I now recollect that Tracks came first – tracks led me to Wild. But for some reason I read Wild first – probably because I found Wild for free.
I enjoyed reading both books, and would recommend the reading of both but they both left an emptiness.
I have walked, walking was my escape when young – before I lived in places where walking is not easy because of the heat. I have walked many of Cornwall’s paths, Devon, Somerset, Glencoe, the Dingle, Dorset, Tenby, up in the lakes a bit, Pennines quite often, Corsica, Bordeaux – especially when young, thank you, teachers Butterworth and Blenkinsop. When I travelled I walked. My most memorable walk was the religious walk around Lake Namtso – many years later, but not for the same reasons. Walking was finding my Path. I remember the Ardennes, at the time of reading Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan. There walking led me to feel the Path, trust myself, and avoid roads as safety. Walking was spiritual, finding self or as I would better describe it now searching for non-self. Walking had depth, it turned a limited loneliness into understanding alone, it was as if steps pounding away from civilisation allowed wisdom to enter.
I chose walking without backpacks so I never understood the importance of Cheryl’s battle with the monster; in the Dingle I paid for a company to arrange taxis for my backpack. I have been in the desert, several times in the Wahiba, what I drove through in Botswana and Namibia at times might be classified as desert but I never had desert experience there. Being in the Wahiba was being in the desert but I never did it alone – driving wth friends including a camel-ride. I never had Robyn Davidson’s depth of experience of being out there on her own. I read with great anticipation for the insights that must have grabbed her; I was disappointed. In truth her book was not a transcription of a diary but a recollection, and there were recollections of depth. But I did not get a step-by-step intro-journey that dug out the torment of “civilisation” and brought out the freedom of Path. They were there but not the steps, despair, tears, discoveries. There were occasional ecstacies in the minimal, but they seemed lacking in recollection, it was as if the being shared was the only way I could appreciate it.
Because I am not waxing lyrical does not mean the books aren’t worth reading, please read them – please walk on your own.
I was left with a “gender” question, is there a difference in women and men on such journeys of isolation? This search for depth? Both Cheryl and Robyn were defeating a challenge. I have met men going up mountains with the only purpose of reaching the top, not looking for depth, so maybe the question is not appropriate?
“Wild” book by Cheryl Strayed – an Oprah book!, “Wild” movie with Reese Witherspoon. Cheryl Strayed at Google authors
“Tracks” book by Robyn Davidson, “Tracks” movie with Interview with Robyn Davidson Snippets – Robyn Davidson lived under some kind of tutelage with Doris Lessing – I wrote to her out of the blue and Doris said come, and wrote Tracks. Had a reknowned affair with Salman Rushdie – appropriate snippet?