By Henry David Thoreau.
My copy is a small (5” x 7”) hardback, (edition by Konemann of Hungary, 1996.)
I mention the size because it is about right for the outdoor reading cache; however, I am not sure I would include Walden in that cache, and I will try to explain below.
See, I definitely find the book beneficial for reading, especially in the preparation mode. And I believe it would be awesome if every adult survivor aspired to write his or her own version of Walden, giving some account of what they go through to survive the GT. On that note alone, a blank journal and some pens or pencils could replace Thoreau’s book in the reading cache, giving the survivor an opportunity to let future generations read about the GT from the survivor’s first-hand accounts.
Granted, a guy could take Walden and still keep a journal, so let me explain why I would be reticent to take the book along. Basically, I think it would be too relevant, too close to the reality of a person attempting to do more with less, to become more in tune with Nature, to embrace solitude [relatively] while escaping the trappings of society-life. Thoreau nobly tackles the subject of “Solitude” in an early section of the book, but the reader later learns that the author still felt it necessary to make a trip to town every day or two to catch up on the latest news and gossip.
Thoreau scratches the surface of what the survivor must embrace for six-plus weeks, life away from town, and because it is so relevant to some of the very real internal struggles that a survivor might be struggling with, I feel like the reading of the book might be like one singing songs to those with heavy hearts (Proverbs 25:20).
Rather than reviewing his experience and philosophical insights during the two years he spent at Walden Pond, while I am busy enough with my own outdoor experience, which might be too taxing psychologically, I think maybe I should read something else that would help distance myself a little bit from the harsh reality of enduring for a significant period of time in the outdoors.
My 2016 Walkabouts (“Sunday Walkabout: 2016”) did not include much time for sitting around in one spot in relative stillness, but I intend to change that a little bit in 2017. Whatever chances I get to sit still in the outdoors this year will often involve the reading of books. I am currently working on several different genres to see what works and what does not work for me in that vein.
Materials that distract your mind from harsh realities may be good medicine, but a book that requires deep study into the facing of challenging realities may be better off studied before the fact and then left behind.
In closing, let me share one of my favorite preparedness quotes from Thoreau’s book:
“It is desirable that a man be clad so simply that he can lay his hands on himself in the dark, and that he live in all respects so compactly and preparedly, that, if an enemy take the town, he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety” (p. 25).
Now I am not sure what old philosopher he speaks of, but this has more than once inspired me to load up the pockets of a jacket with what items I think would help relieve my anxiety if I had to evacuate in a rush; and that readiness jacket is a reminder that not all of my walkabouts need to include a daypack on my back as I walk out the door.