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Forty Days of Solitude

February 20, 2012

I had a book idea today. I won’t say the book idea because I’m hoping there’s more than one in me. But a great one nonetheless.

I want to spend 40 days and nights in the wilderness with a journal and some basic camping supplies. It would be a voyage of self-discovery and a way to reconnect with my natural roots; long enough to shed the modern softness but doable without breaking my ties to civilization. It would also be an experiment in modern pioneering. Is there enough wilderness to escape from humanity for 40 days? Can I learn to catch and prepare my own food? How much will I rely on the technology I bring along?

My first inclination is to embark from Mogollon, the ghost town where my father lives in the New Mexican mountains. I could make a trek out of it and end at the Gila Cliff Dwellings. It’s roughly 50 miles – a mile and a quarter per day. Peanuts.

Have I ever hiked 50 miles? I can’t even remember the last time I camped away from my vehicle.

Of course the hike isn’t what it’s all about. The hike is a starting point. Some days I’ll probably hike a lot and others not at all. What it’s about is survival. Breaking down life to its simplest elements: eat, drink, stay warm and dry.

I’m already excited about the journal. My raw words might be the book itself, or notes with which to write it when I get back. I don’t know. You can’t go on a vision quest with a detailed plan. But whatever happens, I want to share it with the world.

Maybe I’ll be tempted to stay in the woods (I have a story to tell one day about such a person) or maybe I’ll be tempted to cut the trip short (there’s another story here, about myself). This is where you’re going to help me. Knowing there’s interest in reading my journal will be strong impetus to complete the experience.

I think I’ve found my Kickstarter.com project. Getting away for 40 of earth’s rotations won’t be easy or cheap. But if I can generate enough interest and support to cover my family’s living costs and equipment for the trip – in exchange for signed copies of the book, or journal, or whatever shape it takes – I would do it in a heartbeat.

It doesn’t have to be the forty days preceding Easter. While there are spiritual elements to the experience, I don’t have a Jesus complex. And I’d prefer better weather for my first survival gig.

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