Monday, August 24, 2009

That Is All I Do

"The common miracles, the murmur of my friends at evening, the clayfires of smudgy juniper, the coarse, dull food, the hardship and simplicity, the contentment of doing one thing at a time: when I take my blue tin cup into my hand, that is all I do." That is one of my favorite travel quotes because, though it may seem vague, it speaks volumes as to why we venture out into the wilds.

When Peter Matthiessen picks up his cup on an expedition, he isn't casually lifting a glass of water as he would in his home because the things we do in the wild, similar in mechanics as they may be, are not done the same as when we in a domestic setting.

At home, if one is hungry, he may cook a meal, as his wife to warm up some left-overs, run down to McDonalds and grab a burger, or purchase something that can be heated in the microwave. The life-sustaining act of eating becomes a casual exercise that is merely done before we rush off to the rat race where we are in constant hurry to be someplace else. But in the wilds, in those dark, quiet places where man-made objects cannot be found, eating a meal is done to maintain strength, to keep us healthy, to survive and to slake our savage hunger. In the wilds, a simple meal means so much more because the act of eating carries so much more weight and importance. We do not eat and drink for pleasure or entertainment or fashion. We do it to keep ourselves alive. The act is simplified and reverted to its most primal level.

In the wilds, everything we do plays an important part on our experience. Each step can become a success or a disaster, depending on how our foot lands. We move away from the tiring, meaningless racket of the modern daily experiences into the setting where men, as a race, came from. The tame world challenges us in all the wrong ways and we can't live like that for long. We can't empty our minds and souls properly with all that racket. To do so we must find a quiet place and do things that hold meaning.

So when I pick up a blue tin cup to take a drink, that is all I will be doing.