Reading…it’s Dangerous


While at my sister’s college graduation in Chicago I stole an evening to catch up with friends from the glacier summers in Alaska. I stand in awe of the things they have created and built up with their time. While I dedicate myself to making my needs small enough to fit into a bag on my back, they have expounded and grown and dug serious root. Yet, from gathering together and swapping stories I can tell that our fabrics hold true and that comforts me in ways I can’t explain.

One of said friends, Rende, loaned me a book called Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

The first I heard of this book I was working at a ranch deep in the grassy throes of the Hi-Line, northern Montana. I had hiked out to the highway where I got cell phone reception and was talking to my dad. I was describing the herd of caribou watching me from a grassy hill some distance away when his voice caught an edge, “what is the landscape like?” he demanded. I provided that information and there was silence on the line, I could hear that the gears in his brain were turning at a different pace than usual, “do you think the landowners around there would let me hunt them? On foot. By hand.”

Who was this man and what was he talking about. He went on to explain about some book he’d read and a youtube video he’d found about persistence hunting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUpo_mA5RP8 and he was jived enough to get excited at the dream of trying it.

The amusing episode passed and at most I thought of it when used as a story to explain the kind of people I come from. Then I forgot about it. Until Rende put the source of Dad’s excitement in my hands. Now I get it.

From the moment I cracked the cover I couldn’t step away. I sat in parking lots and read because driving home would steal time I could be reading. Frequently I had to jump out of the car and run (my car was safely in park and turned off, no “The God’s Must be Crazy” shenanigans). Came back and resumed reading. It dominated my world in a way that I haven’t experienced since the Sherlock Holmes anthology as a kid. It produced the kind of inspiration that siphons helium into your cranium, elicits flutters of excitement in your chest, and barges guts aside as it makes room for its ideas in your psyche.

Mr. McDougall delivers facts and true wisdom in such witty, casual verbage that everyone can happily stomach it; he paints foreign landscapes in the language of American culture, using references to TV shows to woo our minds away from that very same brainless box. His back-research is thorough and he weaves it into a powerful support of the main plot.

Let me cut straight to the chase (nyuk nyuk): borrow or buy this book.

Bonus: doing so will make the next couple of posts sound WAY more reasonable.

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