I discovered interesting stories about life just as my own life was getting more interesting. On my first backpacking trip in the Savage Mountain State Park of the Alleghany Mountains, I discovered Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A few years later, running late night river shuttles on the Green and Colorado rivers, the river crew read out load to each other Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and On the Road. Somewhere along the way, working in the great Western wilderness areas of the Collegiate Range in Colorado, the Pecos and Bandelier Wilderness Areas of New Mexico and Big Bend National Park in the Chihuahua Desert of Texas, I ran into Siddhartha, On the Loose and The Teachings of Don Juan.
Besides reading such stories of foot loose heroes, walking in the wilderness provided plenty of time to share our own stories, so we got to be (had to be) pretty good at it. Image a 3- to 4-week trip with an co-instructor whom you may have just met and with whom you will teach, eat and sleep with under a 2-person tarp, what are you going to do in the hours following Outward Bound and other groups of students, you tell stories. Where you grew up and how. What got you to working in the outdoors. What you want to do with your life. What makes you happiest and why.
Even though I mostly teach indoors these days, I still love stories and my students seem to love them too. I have found stories unlock the wisdom we have within ourselves. And, while the notion of ‘story’ permeates our contemporary lives, the actual art of storytelling and finding meaning from stories is a rare thing. A post or a tweet is not a story. A status update is not a story. And, curated photos are seldom worth a thousand words.
So, I have decided to put together a collection of short stories and anecdotes that celebrate those who wander through life, who savor the beauty and face the danger of living in uncertain times. While the characters may seem larger than life in places, their stories may be your story, or what your story could be if you thought about it differently. Maybe I am a romantic, but I believe we still need stories for those long nights of driving or those long walks with strangers, even as those drives and walks become part of our life’s story.