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.