Back to Reality

My book is about getting back to reality, the story of one man who chose to live close to the natural, the elemental. It’s a story I think our society could perhaps use right now.

Why do I love nature and wilderness? In a nutshell, it keeps me tied to reality. It offers a point of reference when the world of people all around me seems upside down. Nature does what it does automatically, following the same laws of physics and physiology it always has. There’s no fabrication or affectation or politics. The forms of things change – the laws never do.

The world of humans, society, is so much less reliable. We want to convince ourselves and those around us of things we just wish to believe in – realities we wish were true. We think too often that we can divorce ourselves from natural reality and wander off into our own utopian land of good feelings. In today’s society we want to assure each other that we should all be proud of ourselves, however poor our choices were or however little we’ve accomplished. We want to convince ourselves that we have mastery and comprehension of incredibly complex interwoven cycles of earth itself, such as the climate. Some would even like to think that they can choose a new gender if unhappy with the one they were born into, not letting silly ideas like reality stand in the way. A little humility would go a long way as would a closer connection to the real world – to wilderness.

Henry David Thoreau might have said it best long ago:

Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downwards through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvian which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom, and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d’ appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden


In other news,

I’ll be speaking at the L.L. Bean at the Ross Park Mall in Pittsburgh this Sunday, the 15th at 12:00. I hope to see you there!

And thanks to those who’ve ordered a copy of the book!

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