Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes.
Ultimate freedom. An extremist.
An aesthetic voyager whose home is the Road.
-Roger Miller & Into the Wild
IN MARCH 2011 I went to England on a whim with my College in order to get off to Europe, to see something new. On 5 March, our plane took off and I started journaling in this lime-green leather journal I have (referred to henceforth as the “Lime Journal” because I keep many journals and refer to them by name or color) about how much I love flying:
As we drove up our runway and stopped, I literally couldn’t sit still. I got the same itchy palms I get when I am gazing down an open stretch that I want to sprint down…except that this time we were going to open up, sprint, spread out and leave the ground.
I stared out the window as the plane gathered speed and lifted off. Forget people in headphones and reading magazines–I had my nose to the window.
I was the plane. I could feel my body shift and lift off the ground and become airless. I remembered that first lonely (no, not lonely–magical) flight to Phoenix when I was 16…I cannot live but to love it. It commands a respect–to be able to fly. Where else can you get the same experience?
When he was interviewing me, Drew said that I had this great sense of adventure that takes over everything I do…I think he’s right. I get the same joy and inspiration from climbing mountains or hiking that I get from gazing at the stars or walking to the lake…or dreaming of going to space. Things that man have not yet touched or ruined.
So maybe I almost cried today when my flight took off…So maybe being 33,000 feet above the ground gives me a rush…to be separated from society. It makes you realize how truly insignificant things are…fashion. Gossip. Celebrities. Business. Economics. War. Just like hitting the trails and heading off into the woods and turning your back on what can’t touch you anymore. Dear God–night on a plane–I can see the stars, and I know I won’t sleep tonight.
I don’t have any pictures from the flight because it was 1) dark outside and 2) unbelievable to takeoff and fly. I couldn’t pause for pictures just then. So, then, I had my eight-hour trip of majesty and landed in London where my little tour took a trip to Stonehenge…
That is Stonehenge (“The Hanging Stones”) right there–a huge disappointment because of a few reasons. First, that top picture is about how close I was able to get. This is right after I got worked up and moved to emotion because my tour guide had told us about the magnetic field the Ancient Celts built it on (this is important–pre-Roman-Empire-era) in which man could be one with nature and experience what modern man cannot experience (and no one really knows what this does but it sounds like something I wanted to experiment with; unfortunately our Tour Guide said that modern electricity probably blocks the body from feeling natural laylines now). Some of the stones were brought in from 200 miles away. It’s a natural enigma–nobody knows what it is.
So why didn’t I have a great, moving and spiritual experience there?
First of all. Stonehenge is now surrounded by fences–keeping tourists OUT and the stones IN. The circular ditches that were the ORIGINAL construction at Stonehenge are now obscured by asphalt paths that run right through them in order, again, to keep tourists OUT and the stones IN.
There is a charge for admissions–just to walk up to the stones. There is a food court. There is a gift shop. I just find it quite disrespectful to the sanctity of the site, just as much as loud tourists making obscene poses and gestures in front of the site…so in all my pictures I quietly said SCREW YOU to the tourists and tried to make it look like a peaceful, pastoral and lonely scene. You can’t see the main roads that zip by the 200-yard area of grass enclosed by chain-link fences and asphalt paths and hundreds of tourists.
The one good thing is that after the…rather…tense and aggravating experience, I was given free wine samples at the gift shop.
So the point of the story is I started this Lime Journal in England even though I had planned to use it as a hiking journal. The trouble is that I haven’t been able to hike anywhere, though I’ve trekked up Mount Snow and Monadnock and Talcott Mountain. In the beginning of the Lime Journal I have several lists of trails and mountains I want to conquer, beginning with the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Long Trail in Vermont, the Berkshire Mountains and Green Mountains, Mount Greylock the New England portion of the Appalachian Trail and the Adirondacks–46 mountains all together in that range.
…And that’s just in New England, people. I have plans for hiking elsewhere in the States. In the WORLD. The problem is that being so close to beginning my career, I just can’t have both worlds.
Somewhere once I read that “the leisurely backpacker is someone who is on the trail for the trail itself, not the destination.”
That’s basically the entire point.
That’s the reason for the existence of Stonehenge, the existence of hiking, the existence of the world. The natural world, that is.
So here begins the written account, both known and unknown, of me, myself and I in whatever form I choose to take.
“I am in here,” as Hal Incandenza famously quotes in the opening pages of Infinite Jest. Yes, I have read the novel Infinite Jest in entirety and I’m not afraid to quote it. I have read a lot of other things, too.
You might note that I enjoy quoting Hamlet out of all Shakespeare’s plays, because Hamlet is my favorite character.
Mostly I think. Then I read. Then, after those two things are done, I’ll write.
Because that’s basically what I’m here to do.