Home > Journalism, Personal, Road trip, Travel > How to Shit in the Woods and Make it Past Page 17

How to Shit in the Woods and Make it Past Page 17

September 12, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

There must be something in the water because no other genre of books seems to have the whimsical, life-is-great-even-though-I-just-about-died titles that travel books are graced with.

Take for instance my most recent trip to Bookshop Santa Cruz where the following titles sent my perception of reality into a tailspin.

– How to Shit in the Woods
– Don’t Tell Mom I work on a Rig, She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in Texas
– Up shit creek
– How to Die in the Outdoors: 100 Interesting Ways
– Shattered Air: A true Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite’s Half Dome

Staring at the spines I have an unrelenting urge to have the writers whit, humor and experiences seep into me. I get so overwhelmed that I simply can’t decide on one, and suddenly I’m $100 down and planning the next month of my life.

Then a sort of funny thing happens–I rarely ever finish one. I might start aggressively reading the first few chapters, curling myself up into a ball wishing I was trapped on the mountain huddling in a snow cave taking what I thought were my last breaths, but then somewhere between the writer contemplating his decision to not take a GPS locator and deciding that urinating on himself is a key way to keep warm, I lose interest. My eyes start to scan the pages, quickly looking for any interesting tidbits of information that may come in handy during the Wednesday trivia night at the local bar.

Eventually I get so fed-up with my own laziness and lack of ability to focus I close the book and toss it against the wall. Where it stays at least until someone comes over that I must impress, and then finds its way to the bookshelf.

“Oh wow I love this book,” they might say, pointing to Bill Bryson’s memoirs The Thunderbolt Kid. “Yea, I really liked it,” I might shoot back. “But I got a little bored when he started throwing stuff from the third-story porch, and well, I guess I just never picked it back up.” Their face drops a little, but nevertheless, since I have the book, I must still be okay.

The next problem here is that I rarely ever pick a book up off the floor and give it a second chance. This not only poses a huge predicament seeing that I want to be a writer, but it doesn’t seem to have a cure. Every time I have a new idea about how to curb the disorder, I find another excuse that my solution must be wrought in emotion and not reality.

Of course there are the exceptions. I fly through just about anything written by John Krakauer, Sebastian Junger, Erik Blehm, and John Steinbeck. And on top of that I tend to read The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Outside Magazine, Runners World and Backpacker Magazine to name a few. I find myself reading several newspapers, websites and blogs as well.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to focus on the one genre that has me captivated. And last night on the airplane I think I figured out why.

I have had enough adventures myself to know the bug and reading a book simply does not cut it. If the book isn’t about an interest of mine, a place I’ve been to, or by a writer whom I previously have grown to love, I start to get frustrated that I’m not there. ‘What’s holding me back?’ I think. And then my mind starts wandering, and usually starts skimming and then, Wham! The book’s against the wall and my heart is yearning to travel.

Now as I begin the next chapter of my life and place myself directly into the fire, I’m hoping to gather enough material to write a book myself. I just hope that my readers are a bit more dedicated than I am.

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  1. October 22, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Tim: You have a skill with words and a perception that is nicely honed. Keep the faith!

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