Saturday, May 24, 2014

On the Wild Edge: David Petersen

David Petersen was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot who left the service,  and to a large extent civilization, and went to live in the woods with his wife.

He wrote this book about his life up in the mountains, and it makes a lot of sense, although of course we're not on the same sheet of music all the time.

  Here's a quote from the book. Sometimes he gets things just right.

" I am a happy camper most of the time. And like the Talking Heads' desperado, "Psycho Killer,"  I hate people when they are not polite. But yet, still-- Caroline is likely right when she accuses me at times of "thinking too much." What she means, and I agree, is that thoughtfulness, in this warped and thoughtless world, too often leads to disappointment, discontent, anger, rage and even psychosis. And all such problems are most pronounced in those of us who take life, perhaps, a bit too seriously."

I read a lot of books written by people who went off into the wilderness looking for they knew not what.  Many of them went a lot further than I did.  But when you read those books , whatever differences you may have with the authors, there are common strains.  It may be true that "all men lead lives of quiet desperation" but it's also true that some of them find a way out.


  1. Ya know I was just reading a post on another site that kinda plays into this topic. The instances of hermits is a trait that seems to manifest itself more in Europeans than any other race although Asians have a high degree of it as well. Not saying all races don't do it but it is much higher in Europeans. I believe the disappointment and such you mention is a side effect of the creativity and sense of individuality that is higher in Europeans. It manifests itself into disappointment when others are not as focused on a topic or do not share our views. Leading to isolation even when surrounded by others but then moves the person to make that isolation real.

    Another interesting trait that is mostly found in Europeans compared to other races and has become much more prevalent in the last 100 years or so is the aspect of projecting human emotions into animals. Personally I blame that trait being on the rise due to increased leisure because of cheap energy but some connect it directly to creativity.

    Just funny how things connect sometimes isn't it :)

    How are the Polecats?

  2. I know that there have always been people who were unhappy conforming to societal norms and had to go "way out there" to feel free of those constraints. I think the need for room and quiet are inherent in some people though not all. Even Jesus went into the desert alone when things got to be too much. I don't know if that tendency was as pronounced in other races. I think some found ways of coping based more on mental discipline than physical surroundings. The Japanese come to mind.

    These days, grim and gritty as they are, I think a lot of people are pondering similar issues.

    The ferrets look like they are losing weight but it may just be because they are shedding their heavy winter coats. We are building them a fenced in play area in a shady spot in the meadow so they can get outside and play without their harnesses.

  3. So - how is your book coming on?

    S'funny - there seems to be a trend in this country of older people moving to rural locations - almost as though they're balancing the exodus of youngsters to the bright lights. Over 85% of farmers in this country are over 65. That does not bode well...

    1. My two kids went to Vancouver in Canada as soon as they were old enough to be on their own. Lived there for two years, then to Jacksonville, Florida and finally to Cincinnati for the immediate future. They were horrified when I recently asked if they would consider coming back to the place to live. I can understand it, I guess. I like the mountains, myself.

      I'm actually working on it some when I have some time where everything is caught up. I've done magazine articles and am working on a new one now, but the more challenging work is slower. I won't forget the dedication if I live long enough to finish it. ;-)

  4. This sounds like the sort of book I'd enjoy reading. I'll have to check our library system.

    1. He wrote 13 books but this is the best.

  5. Hey Harry,


    At some point I think if I don't go to Costa Rica, I may try the hermit thing in the West Texas desert. I would like to live out in the desert (by myself) and shut the phone and internet off for two weeks. Imagine completely disconnecting. I would just work on my property, read books and just lose myself in thought.

    I can just imagine if some kinda large event happened like a very small scale nuclear exchange in Europe over Ukraine or the Yellowstone volcano erupting (Im sure I would see some pretty desert sunsets) and I would miss the entire event.

    1. Well, I have tried to cut myself off from the news and I can never do it. I am too anxious about events that might impact me or mine and I believe that keeping abreast of current events is part of overall situational awareness. However, there is a perfectly viable train of thought that it is pointless to obsess over events you cannot influence. Maybe if you get the place in the West Texas desert, you could listen to Deutsche Welt for an English language news broadcast at night. Don't mess with BBC, they are virulently anti American these days. I quit listening to them long ago.