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JACKSON HOLE, WYO – In honor of “Wild” author Cheryl Strayed appearing at “Page to the Podium,” I offer a column that appeared two years ago when her book was the latest in the confused-female-finding-herself-in-nature genre. Her book was an inspiration to women everywhere and made men even more grateful for their gender selection.
Susie recently finished reading the best seller “Wild,” a book by Cheryl Strayed about a woman “finding herself” while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
“The book was so inspiring,” Susie told me. “An Oprah book-of-the-month selection. I think you should go on a long hike. It could change your life.”
Women love books (especially Oprah books) about women finding themselves, about women learning to cope with emotions from past relationships, about women coming to grips with their anger toward their parents and siblings, about women discovering they are stronger than they thought, more confident, bolder and less fearful. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but have women ever heard of tequila?
The next day I couldn’t take my mind off what Susie said. Was my existence hollow? Is there more to life than beer, guns, pickups, fart jokes, NFL football and one-night stands with inebriated Utah girls? Any reasonable person (i.e. a male) would say, “Of course not.” Still, chicks dig that kind of introspective self-examination stuff.
I decided to hike the GTPPT (Game to Pub Place Trail). I strapped a cooler of beer and ice on my back and began. In an attempt to lighten the load, I downed beer while I hiked, throwing the cans over the fence so as not to litter the bike path. Bikers passed me and stared, no doubt wondering what would possess a man to hike alone on the GTPPT, wondering if I was ever frightened, if I had doubts. Perhaps they looked into themselves, wondering if they too could attempt such a journey. Perhaps I inspired some of them. If so, I wish them Godspeed.
I rested against a fence post and popped another beer. I thought about my past relationships, my childhood hurts, my unresolved issues. A fox scampered onto the path. He gazed inquisitively at me, as if he knew that on the wilds of this trail he shared a commonality of place and survival with all wayfarers, soul-seekers and self-discoverers. He moved his head back and forth as if he understood what it means to “just let it be.” The discharge from my .44 shattered the air. The fox disintegrated, leaving only a splatter of blood, a tuft of hair, and a hole in the pavement. I never did get the whole “just let it be” thing.
I realized then that all my issues were resolved, if I had any to begin with, which, as a male, I had no way of knowing anyway. I was healed, at peace with the universe, knowing that whatever struggles lay ahead, whatever my final destiny, I will be fine as long as the beer and ammo hold out.