A Rare Sighting…..

Among these many posts and in my book,”see my book“, I frequently posit the question of how far one would go to achieve true personal authenticity. What sacrifices would one make in order to find one’s true self. That has been an historic search among the eons. But recently, like a brief glimpse of Bigfoot, I have come across perhaps a very real example.

There is a new biography out called, “The Stranger in the Woods”, by Michael Finkel. In it, he describes the 27 year sojourn into the Maine woods by one Christopher Knight. Approximately, 30 years ago, Mr. Knight parked his car, walked into the nearby woods, and effectively disappeared and lived entirely alone for the next 27 years. He didn’t seem to plan it. He didn’t have supplies or gear. He just left his car and walked away from society. Now that might seem to be the behavior of a disturbed or troubled man, but as this biography reveals, he is a man of thoughtful and clear-minded goals.

He survived by stealing from cabins during the winters, committing some 1000 burglaries, thus a somewhat hunted man. Eluding that for 27 years, he was finally arrested after one cabin break-in.

Given Maine’s affection for self-reliance and independence, Mr. Knight’s crimes were reduced in severity by the local courts, and he is a free man. There is much in this “interview” that taps our many issues. Mr. Knight observes, upon returning to the society he left behind, “the lack of aesthetics, the crudeness, the inanities, the trivia, the inappropriate…aspirations and goals.”

It is a slim book. Much of it dwells on isolates and “hermits” through the ages. But it does paint an intriguing picture of Mr. Knight and uses his sojourn into solitude to explore the issue of finding a self that might be lost, yet authentic and perhaps, after all, findable.



2 thoughts on “A Rare Sighting…..

  1. I did read the article in the paper about this guy and you’re right it makes you really think why would he drop everything decide to live off the land? And by doing so did he truely “Find Himself” or just survive all those years on the run. I look forward to reading the book. Thanks again for another entry!


  2. Interesting to find an actual specimen of the Hypothesis about searching for authenticity. I did read the shorter article that was in USA today but have not read the book. I would like to do so because from the article it was hard to tell if he had much to say about his realizations. It was interesting that he said he was never bored or lonely. Was it clear if he had some sort of Autism or phobia’s? I think for some people this daily interface with life is so daunting that its absence may be the only way to survive. It is hard to fathom living this long in the woods not to mention the winters. The movie “Into the Wild” depicted a similar story but I believe the guy dies of exposure in the end and did not last 25 years. What are your theories after reading the book? Did he truly find his authenticity or did he just succeed in dropping out of society?


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