Journeys of Simplicity : Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Bash?, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard & Others
What Thoreau took to Walden Pond. What Thomas Merton packed for his final trip to Asia. What Annie Dillard keeps in her writing tent. What Edward Abbey and a friend packed (and forgot to pack) for a float trip down the Colorado River. What an impoverished cook served M. F. K. Fisher for dinner. Gandhi's possessions at the time of his death.These vignettes create a spare poetry, a meditation on unencumbered living. In its own quiet way, Journeys of Simplicity ponders the light by which we travel, the light that guides our way'our traveling light. Not a ?simple living? book, reciting tips for how to pinch pennies or get rid of clutter, but a book to be savored slowly, to remind us what is truly essential.
Here's what John Muir brought on his 1,000-mile trek from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico: a comb, a brush, a towel, soap, a change of underclothing, five books, a plant press and a map. "Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness," he wrote. In Philip Harnden's quirky, reflective book Journeys of Simplicity: Traveling Light with Thomas Merton, Basho, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard & Others, Harnden gives us the lists of objects that famous pilgrims took with them on their travels. Bilbo Baggins wouldn't have strayed from the Shire without his pipe and tobacco (though we learn that he forgot other necessities such as money, a hat and a walking stick). Most entertaining is the substantial list of items Henry David Thoreau brought with him on a 12-day canoe trip in Maine; ironically enough, the man who told others to "simplify, simplify" toted along 166 pounds of stuff. Harnden notes that the book's title is something of a double entendre: it helps us to imagine light, unencumbered journeying, but it also points to the divine Light that illuminates our trail. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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October 01, 2007
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