Escaping to a desert planet, a single map is enough, and a mind-expanding newsletter.
After a month away, I'm back in Bend ahead of major incoming snow. Our cat Oliver barely recognizes me and my independent wife is adjusting to having her bossy husband back.
The two weeks of solo road tripping post-Idaho fostered introspection and outside movement. (And of course piano.) I hiked, ran, and biked, including the coldest ride I can remember - three hours in the snow. Next time I bring toe warmers...
Since I'm as prone as anyone to doomscrolling, I sequestered myself off-grid in the mountains and Owyhee canyon lands for the week around the election. Emerging to news of a Biden/Harris victory and hearing their speeches felt truly cathartic.
This Week's Newsletter:
Foundational scifi, rethinking how far we need to travel, and a newsletter that's expanding my mind.
P.S. If you were in election-news-only last week and missed my photo essay about eastern Oregon explorations, here it is again.
Contemplation zone in the Owyhee Canyonlands in eastern OR. I'm in a giant rock amphitheater that no camera can do justice.
Revisiting an Old Classic: Dune
I recently reread - devoured - Dune by Frank Herbert, the brilliant scifi classic. High on a plateau in the Sheldon Antelope Refuge, snow falling and wind buffeting the van, I disappeared for hours into the desert world of Arrakis.
If a winter snow storm and a book is your jam, check out Dune for stunning world building, thought-provoking philosophy, or just a fantastic story. (There's a new movie coming too.)
A few favorite quotes, among many:
"The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.” And always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning “That path leads ever down into stagnation.”
-- A world is supported by four things: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.
My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. “Something cannot emerge from nothing,” he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable “the truth” can be.
Solitude on the Sheldon National Antelope Refuge in N. Nevada. Temperature: 15 degrees. Hooray for van heaters.
A Single Map Is Enough
The explorer and author Alastair Humphreys continues to impress me with his projects. From far-flung adventures all over the world to finding magic in his backyard, he's constantly evolving his viewpoints and living his values.
His latest concept - A Single Map Is Enough - aims to explore the area around his home based on a 16x16 square mile zone. It sprang from three questions of his that I found a) inspiring and b) challenging (especially coming off a fantastic road trip):
How can I help put nearby nature into everyday lives? To make everyone an equal participant in the outdoors, enjoying the quest for wildness, the mental and physical benefits of getting out, moving more, noticing more, and living more simply. This should not just be for people with the time to travel a long way, the money to buy hardcore equipment, or the privileged ease of knowledge, gender, race or ability.
If I love wild places so much, am I willing to not visit them in order to help protect them?
Is a single map enough exploration for an entire lifetime? Runner Rickey Gates says something that has stuck with me for years, “In the end, I think that a single mountain range is enough exploration for an entire lifetime.” I love that concept.
Culture Study: A Must-Read Newsletter
Anne Helen Peterson's Culture Study newsletter is one of the hardest-hitting and smartest pieces of weekly writing I consume. Her honest and insightful style emanates from N. Idaho roots (a stone's throw from my hometown) plus years in New York City working for Buzz Feed.
Beyond her excellent essays, she also interviews non-celebrities. Here's an excerpt from a recent one:
Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women. Women in the U.S. have long done a disproportionate share of the unpaid service work in institutions and at home.
They’re the ones who run the bake sales so the school can have an art teacher or enough books to go around. They’re the ones who run church outreach programs to attract new families and serve community members in need. They’re the ones who check in on sick coworkers, remember birthdays, and help their colleagues feel like part of a team. Women do all of that unpaid service for the institutions in their lives, and then they go home and do even more.
Women serve as the social safety net because norms (norms that serve capitalistic, patriarchal, and white interests) in the U.S. tell them that’s their role. And because breaking those norms leaves them open to judgments (or worse) from others and judgments from themselves.
That's it for this edition. Here in Oregon, we're buckling down for winter with 3' of snow incoming. Crank up the fireplace to stay warm, order a single map to rule them all, disappear into Dune, and I'll catch you next week!