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[pct-l] Suggested reading
Several weeks ago, I decided I had enjoyed the PCT Handbook to such an
extent that it was time to track down some of the "suggested reading"
notated by Jardine in the appendices. I found an overview of the "Flow"
book, summarizing the "psychology of optimal experience." Interesting
indeed. As was the bit I skimmed at the library on George Meegan's 19,000
mile walk across the Americas. Right now, I'm getting through "The Long Walk" by Rawicz.
This is one gem of a book. Can't put it down. Although the man's experiences
in the hands of the Soviet "secret police" were beyond horrific, I couldn't
help but draw parallels between what he went through and what transpires
among thru-hikers somewhere mid- to late-journey. I'm nowhere near through,
but found this passage particularly striking...
(describing the interaction between his 60 or so fellow prisoners of war, all
of whom had, unbeknownst to one another, endured the same excruciating year
in the Russian prison/torture chamber)
"Behind our flowing beards and our long, matted hair, we were beginning to
know one another. It was not a question of names. Names did not count.
Nobody bothered with them. Men became indentified by character and
Ah, the thru-hiker look (among males, anyway). And the trail name concept!
For point of reference, Rawicz continues...
"There were the leaders, the organizers, the men who automatically assumed
some kind of command to make the rules so that as many as possible might
survive. There were men, like me, who were determined not to die. There
were the others in whom the spark of hope had already been almost crushed
when they were first herded into these travelling conffins...
"The men I admired most were the jokers. They saved us often in our
blackest moments... their quips were frequently macabre, almost always
earthy and pungent with the good strong language than men use... I bless
There are indeed parallels to be drawn between any group of folks who endure,
by choice or otherwise, a spartan, difficult, and regimented lifestyle.
Most things, including human interaction, become a vehicle through which to
best facilitate the arduous way. Interesting. I thought some folks out
there might find this book worth a read. "The Long Walk" by Slavomir
Rawicz. ISBN 0-941130-86-X
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