It wasn't until I came across his book in grade school, that I really began to daydream about my relationship with the outside world around me. It took a story about Sam Gribley, a runaway from New York City, to show me how intimate the outdoor world could be.
I swung by my parent's house a week or so ago, and I found the book on the shelf in my old bedroom. I find it funny that such a short book can be the reason I have practically fantasized that I was Will Smith from "I am Legend" or Tom Hanks in "Castaway."
Long ago, David sat reading "My Side of the Mountain" and believed that could be me. I could hollow out a tree. Learn to live off that land. Find peace in the noises of the forrest. But when it came time to commit and really run away, I got only as far as those before me. I packed my ninja turtle suitcase, considered the inconvenience of having to come home to make my daily peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and decided it wasn't worth the effort.
I think that is why, whenever I read about someone else's grand, outdoor journey, get a chance to sit in the quite of the wilderness, or see a photo that transports me to a place of untouched beauty and solitude, I simultaneously feel at home and a pang of longing to be closer to the wild. Closer to the Earth and her animals. Further from fumes and concrete. I love the natural world, and always wish I could be as close to it as Sam Gribley.
If you get a chance this summer, read it again or for the first time. Maybe read or give it to a child. It has directly and indirectly given me so much joy, I can hardly believe it.
Let me take a moment to point out the title of this post. "In Which I Re-discover a Book that Changed My Life." I didn't say "the" book that changed my life. I acknowledge there are many more books important to me.
Do you have a book or story that impacted you unlike any other?