I saw a movie on PBS about a year ago during pledge week. It was called “Alone In The Wilderness”. I was so captivated by it that I went and bought it. Perhaps I should have donated to the local PBS station and received it as a “free” gift but I’m pretty averse to letting them start sending me crap all year long asking for still more money.

Apparently, in the 1960’s a man named Dick Proenneke left everything to move into the far reaches of the Alaskan wilderness with nothing but a few hand tools, a rifle and pistol, and an agreement with a bush pilot to check on him roughly monthly or whenever he could land on the lake nearby. He then built himself a log cabin and recorded the process and his thoughts with a 16mm movie camera and journal. His stated goal was to see if he could be alone with only his own thoughts for one year (after the obvious goal of surviving). He did both so successfully that he continued to live there almost full time until the late 1980s when his health began to decline.

The vast majority of his musings were not philosophical; he mostly documented his solution to everyday problems. I checked the book out of the library which contained a more detailed transcript of his journals and they give some more detailed hints at the man’s mindset. He wasn’t anti-social nor did he hate being around people. He seemed to be quite normal except for his desire to build everything himself and buy as little as possible.
In many ways, I’m the opposite of him. I love technology; indeed, I am steeped in it. But there are times when I suddenly grow tired of keeping up with the latest technological developments. I wish for computers to stop improving and becoming obsolete in mere months. I long for more things that you buy rather than services that you subscribe to. I want things that last a long time rather than things that have been designed to wear out on a carefully planned schedule. I grow weary of trying to get HD TV and continuously having to say no to extended warranties. I’m sick of having people call me at home asking me to give them my money.

I go through phases of wanting to chuck it all; to live more simply with fewer distractions or at least limit my distractions to things that are truly important (like avoiding being killed by a bear – that one is pretty easy to visualize and prioritize). I want to go to one of those week-long classes where I learn woodworking with hand tools only. I want to spend a week learning to play guitar better without having to stop and do a dozen other things first. I want to read a whole book at one sitting.

But I guess I won’t; I’d have to leave my digital camera behind.

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