view from the hill

A look at the elements and events that come into view from where I'm standing...
... the stuff that matters in this life. Some flicker and are gone in a matter of hours
only to live in memory, others become life long travelling companions, never far from reach.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Call of the Wild

“The danger with civilization, of course, is that you will piss away your life on nonsense.” – Jim Harrison, The Beast God Forgot to Invent

The danger with nonsense, of course, is figuring out what is and what isn’t. So, in the risk of running from civilization and towards nonsense, I have been listening more and more to the Call. Yep, that’s the call of the wild, as in Jack London and the story that has ignited the wanderlust in many a near and far-sighted adventure seeker.

callSay what you will about London – that he only spent one winter in the Yukon, returned broke and died a drunk. The thing is, he’s a really evocative writer. He can paint a picture of that snowy wilderness like no one else. He knows in his bones the minor key sound of wolves howling, the otherworldly glow of the northern lights, and the struggles of petty men in a vast wilderness. It’s great stuff.

This Call of mine has been building ever since we got back form London and I started to get healthy. I could feel myself waking up from the Dour. I wanted to be outside. I wanted to hike in the Sierras, sleep under the stars in the desert. I was drawn to the writings of John Muir and Jon Krakauer.

So, I read Jack London’s famous story of Buck the dog who’s hauled off into the chaos of the Yukon gold rush, and his subsequent shedding of civilization’s mildness to find the wild heart at his very core. Man, what a great story! I also read his stories, In a Far Country and In the Forests of the North.

klondiketalesThis is how obsessions starts. First, a short story here and there, then I’m heading off to REI looking at snowshoes. Things seem to be picking up a certain momentum of their own, and rather than suppress it, I thought I’d ride along for a while, see where this new energy is heading. I recognize the romanticized notion of the North I read in these stories, and yet I’m letting myself be pulled in that direction anyway. So, in the spirit of new directions and wide open skies, I’m allowing this blog of mine to be high jacked by the Call for a while.

I guess the danger for any reader is if we finally get off the couch and actually go out into the world and live what we read. I came across a bookmark in, of all things, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer which reads, “The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.”

So, thank you Mr. London, and here’s to living more intensely.


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