Quotes from AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

Awol on the Appalachian trail
Awol on the Appalachian trail
Awol on the Appalachian trail, by David Miller

Finished reading this e-book today, but because it’s borrowed through lendle.me I wanted to save the quotes I’ve highligted as a blogpost, before the book is deleted from my iPad automatically. So here are my favorite quotes from Awol on the Appalachian Trail.

Check out the original journal
Buy it from Amazon
Borrow it from lendle.me

“While hiking, you experience hardship, deprivation, drudgery, and pain, and the cooking stinks. The similarities to marriage doesn’t end there. Some people love it, and many are committed to seeing it through.”

“… stay off my face, and don’t shit on my food”. Making a deal with a mouse :)

“… you are at the center of your own universe. You are free to create meaning for yourself.”

“Erwin, Tennessee, has the unusual distinction of being the only town in America to have hung an elephant. That was in 1916, and the elephant had it coming.”

“Alone cruising serenely through the woods, is a situation that nurtures emotional liberation.”

“Experience is enriched by reliving it, contemplating it, and trying to describe it to another person.”

“I didn’t want to be pigeonholed, defined by my career, growing soft and specialized behind a desk.”

“The rhododendrons are blooming pink, like giant bouquets overstuffed with flowers. The path is carpeted with pink petals. Nine beatiful, dreamlike miles pass.” (Between Bland and Daleville.)

“Thoughts are the most effective weapon in the human arsenal. On the upside, it is powerful to realize that goals are reached primarily by establishing the proper state of mind. But if allowed the perspective that endeavors are propped upon nothing but a notion, we falter.”

“Anything that we consider to be an accomplishment takes effort to achieve. If it were easy, it would not be nearly as gratifying. What is hardship at the moment will add to our sense of achievement in the end.”

“It is unfortunate that the pleasure is inseperable from the pain.”

“The approval, the comforts, the commitments wound themselves around me like invisible threads.”

“Self-help books emphasize “defining priorities” and “staying focused”, euphemisms for specialization and stifling spontaneity. Our vision becomes so narrow that risk is trying a new brand of cereal, and adventure is watching a new sitcom. Over timeI have elevated my opinion of nonconformity nearly to the level of and obligation. We should have a bias toward doing activities that we don’t normally do to keep loose the moorings of society.”

“It is ike walking through the room of a child who has left all his toys out, but it goes on for ten miles.”

“Humans are creatures with longer history of living in the outdoors than in living within the confines of concrete and artificial light. We have an atavistic sense of well-being when immersed in the natural world.”

“If we were paid to do this, we would have quit by now.”

“The endeavor is much more durable because we “own” it. We are here by choice, and we are going about it in the way of our own choosing.”

The radical break from routine that I made in coming on this adventure unloaded the attic of my mind. Everything that I had stored away, out of habit, I’ve taken out and reexamined.

So much has happened over the past 2,172 miles. I have come through forteen states, seen twenty-one bears, lost eight toenails, and gone through six pairs of shoes.

This is it: 146 days of unforgettable scenery, seemingly endless miles of trail, rain, pain, and friendship. It’s over.

Being away from home for long stretches cannot be a way of life. Still, it is important for parents to continue to live their own lives. We can’t sit by and say we’ve already made our decisions, done our striving, and dish out opinions on the doings of our children. Words alone lack authority, and we risk making them surrogates for the life we’d like to lead. We can better relate to the budding aspirations of our children if we follow dreams of our own.

Some moments on the trail were awe-inspiring. Many days were full of picturesque moments: the path lined with blue wildflowers, areas overrun by blooming pink rhododendron and white mountain laurel, the beckoning trail weaving through trees and boulders, the smell of the firs, exposed summits showing limitless horizons of mountains, rolling fields of hay and corn with an old barn in the backdrop. My mind is saturated with these memories.

We are in an era when the demand for our attention is exploding. TV, e-mail, and the internet had blossomed before my hike, and in the short time since I’ve finished, smart phones, Facebook, and Twitter have been added to the roster. The danger that we can confuse being busy with being entertained and being relaxed with being bored. When hiking, we don’t just leave behind the customary distractions; we have to escape from our addiction to them. It can be a challenge to form new habits and to draw from within.

First experience borrowing an ebook via Amazon

Poontang, by Charles Willeford

Poontang, by Charles Willeford
Poontang, by Charles Willeford, The first book borrowed from Amazon. Kind of aweful actually :)

I’ve read a surprising amount of Kindle ebooks from Amazon during the last two years, usually in bed on the tiny iPhone screen, tucked under the covers so not to disturb my wife. But today I borrowed an ebook for the first time, via Booklending.com, one of several websites that mediate borrowing and lending between Kindle customers.

The feature was introduced on Amazon as a new years gift last year, but I haven’t had time to test it until now.

Amazon only allows US customers to lend out books, but foreigners like me can borrow books, and Booklending.com was the first site I testet that let me borrow. (Update: Lendle.me says on it’s signupscreen that its only available to US citizens, but I had no problem signing up and borrowing from them).

How it works

  • Lenders register the Kindle book they own on booklending.com.
  • Borrowers search or browse to find books they want, and click the “Borrow”-button.
  • The owner of the book is contacted by email and asked if they want to lend out that book.
  • If they do, the borrower gets an email with a link that takes him to the bookpage on Amazon, which has an “Accept loaned book”-button, instead of the buy option.
  • It is completely up to the owner of the book how long it takes for the request to go throught. The Poontang book arrived within 24 hours, the rest of my requests are still pending.
  • The offer to borrow a book has an expiration date of 7 days. If you don’t loan in within that limit, the book becomes available to someone else.
  • The rest of the prosess is just like bying a Kindle-book from Amazon. You select which device you want the book sent to, click “Accept loaned book”, and the book is downloaded automagically. Sweet!
  • You now have 14 days to read the book before it is automatically removed from your device.

Testing Booklending.com

The whole experience is a bit strange. All titles that I searched for on Booklending.com were unavailable for borrowing, so I had to settle with browsing the list of recent loans. This brought back memories of using the library, walking around randomly not knowing what hides between the covers of a book. But I’m uncertain if that actually is a good thing; having to settle for a title that simply is available, instead of something you really want to read? The thing about instant availablity (for pay) is that it makes us really impatient and focused on quality.

Booklending.com summary:

Positive

  • The attempt in itself is commendable. Thumbs up!
  • I love that foreigners can borrow, even though lending out to others is blocked. Very generous and much appreciated!
  • There doesn’t seem to be a limit or ratio on how much you can borrow vs. lending out. On Lendle.me you can borrow 2 books (TK), but if you don’t lend, the option to request a book is blocked. As I can’t lend out books, being a foreigner, the fun stops there. Strike one for Booklending.com

Negative

  • Foreigners can borrow, but not lend. I love sharing, almost all my photos on Flickr are CC, and I would love to be a lender. I hope Amazon will change this policy soon.
  • Most titles I search for can’t be lent nor borrowed. Testet with almost all the titles I owned, but none where lendable. But this will hopefully change?
  • I’m having a hard time trying to find any titles to borrow.

Improvements

  • Better ways to browse available titles. Search is useless, to few titles to be useful.
  • A way to contact a user after borrowing a title. It feels very rude not to be able to thank them. Also, a public user profile with the users available titles would be wonderful!
  • More titles. Part of the problem is that booksellers aren’t allowing lending, but it also seems that Booklending.com has fewer users than Lendle.me?

The old way to lend and borrow

Before the launch of Amazon lending last year, there was another, totally useless way to share books with your friends. Compare the how-to video below to the new functions from booklending.com or lendle.me. Lending and borrowing is certainly getting easier:

Closing of with the title poem from the book (warning, several kinds of aweful!)

Poontang, by Charles Willeford, from 1967

Should I unfold this wrinkled flower?
This self-righteous vowel;
This lingering line;
This spurious spondee?
Hard on, hard
Upon the rose-webbed tarn of love,
The black lines are man-made,
The coral lines are contours,
And the blue lines are dank with
blood.

O sere, dry leatherlips,
Hawking into the sink at night,
I cannot fly with these.
Instead:-
The encounter and the countering,
The dotted-swiss dress,
The roseate blush and nights of
contact
Dancing-
The sugared soil of tendered green.
Letting love in as well as out,
Let these be these.