Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chapter 65: Where We Go Far

Let me just resolve that cliffhanger, get that out of the way. I dug a cathole about a hundred yards from our campsite, on a side trail, right in the middle of a massive poison ivy patch. No big deal.

We were a day away from Waynesboro and the southern boundary of Shenandoah National Park. Every one was looking forward to town; to going to the Ming Garden, a famously opulent Chinese buffett; to free showers at the YMCA; to the opening night of the free hiker's hostel at the Grace Evangelical Lutheran, where they had an open kitchen and a widescreen TV. Bandito was looking forward to maybe taking a day off to read Harry Potter. It was going to be a party.

P-Nut convinced us to go the nearly twenty-five miles from the Tye River to the Paul C. Wolfe Shelter, which would leave us only five miles short of Waynesboro. The idea being that we'd only have a short hike into town the next morning, and would then have all day to resupply and relax. It was a good plan. On second thought, it must have been Redwing's idea, or – even better – maybe we came to it democratically, the American way. Because there's no way P-Nut would've come up with something so sensible by himself, that didn't run the substantial risk an almost certain and spectacular failure.


And now, because you can only talk about the inane details of hiking for so long before going stir-crazy and wanting to write a nonsensical philosophical treatise in the assumed voice of your girlfriend, here's an except from "The Ethics of Doing Nothing" by Megan Justine Iorio:
When faced with the seemingly infinite possibilities of the world, its myriad problems, distractions, and the boundless ocean of the unknown about which there is still to learn, what sort of moral implications are there – and ethical quandaries can be found – in the conscious act of doing nothing? A better, more interesting question might be, "How would your life be different if your name was Ward?" But my purpose herein isn't to ask – let alone answer – fascinating, compelling questions. My purpose – indeed, the philosopher's purpose – is to rigorously explore the mundane in such a way as to shatter minds; expound upon, subvert, and nurture misconceptions; and, for better or worse, fundamentally alter your perception of the world. 
Doing nothing can often be an act of brazen rebellion, intellectual fortitude, and steadfast courage. Think of the pacifist monk who – in refusing to take up arms against an imperialistic oppressor, or in refusing to become a pawn in someone else's power struggle – dooms himself to an ignoble and painful martyrdom. Doing nothing can also be the last refuge for the corrupt and apathetic. Think of the complacent citizenry of "democracy" who, through their inaction, callously and implicitly endorse the outrageous evils perpetrated in their name for the sake maintaining the imperialistic ambitions of their supposedly peaceful government. Doing nothing can also be the last resort of the lost and powerless, for those without hope or agenda. Think of the lonely soul who, trapped in an unjust and deeply immoral system, actively choses to do nothing, so as to not be a part of – or party to – it.
[Editor's note: The author continues in this vein for the next 417 pages]
In conclusion, I hope that these few examples that I have expounded upon over the last 418 pages have successfully impressed upon you the inherent heroism or villainy in – and the multitudinous rainbow of fascinating ethical and moral implications of – doing nothing. Perhaps you will now see the world in a different or brighter light, and no longer merely judge or blindly empathize with those you deem "lazy," "apathetic," or "unemployed." However, if I have proven anything over the course of this long and inevitably controversial (and possibly [in]famous, if not lucratively litigious) diatribe, it's that if there is anything harder and potentially more rewarding than doing nothing in a world that offers and demands constant engagement and activity, it's saying nothing. Pass the kumquats.
About the Author: Although she abhors the reductive and borderline misogynistic implication that she might be defined by her physical appearance, Megan is self-admittedly hot. She's 5'7", thin, but distractingly and sometimes problematically voluptuous, and has piercing either brown or blue eyes oft hidden behind an angry curtain of stylishly curled bangs. While she spends most of her waking life in pajamas, Megan can frequently be seen out and about town in skinny jeans, ironic t-shirts, and Chuck Taylors, but she is unequivocally not a hipster. She's been dressing like that for years.

After being rejected from all of her top choices – and being grievously disappointed to find out Hogwarts wasn't real – Megan attended New York University, where she received a double major in Film and Television Production and Classics. She later attended the University of Cambridge, where she received her PhD in Studiology. Her groundbreaking dissertation, "Foundations of Studiology: The Study of Studying Studying" not only won the Nobel Prize, Miscellaneous, but remains widely recognized as one of the most widely recognized dissertations ever written.

Now Professor Emeritus of Studiology at the University of Princeton at Monaco, Megan remains on that institution's Board of Directors and was instrumental in its recent and acclaimed relocation from southern New Jersey. The move was primarily inspired by, and in keeping with, her personal ethos and desire to always be "somewhere warm, and not in New Jersey."

A founding member of Megalomaniac Masterminds Anonymous, or NAMBLA, Megan currently resides with her cat Atilla in an awe-inspiring neo-Classical fortress – surrounded by a treacherous moat filled with man-eating sharks, its ramparts bristling with laser beams and ultrasonic pain rays – in the lush countryside of Campania, Italy. She prefers to spend her time in an undisclosed location, however, where she works ever diligently on devious and revolutionary plans for overthrowing tyrannical American corporate hegemony, and also world domination.

Her casual interests include drinking Scotch and possibly Cognac; long naps on the beach; reading Harry Potter books; watching the X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; indulging on Indian food; being left alone at all times except when she wants attention; and attaining the perfect thought through which to transcend this dreary physical existence. Her goal in life is to find another planet capable of sustaining life, and then moving there. As long as it's warm. She also harbors a secret desire to exploit and develop her nascent internet celebrity by growing her social media presence through a timely and clever Twitter feed and a series of controversial YouTube videos. 

Her pet peeves include men; creepy men who talk to her at Starbucks; phonies; the pretentious; people who don't understand her; yelling; emotional neediness; and Hollywood, both for producing generally sucky movies and for so coldly rejecting the screenplay she wrote about anthropomorphized shrimp.


We made it to the Paul C. Wolfe Shelter just before it started raining. Sadly, there were precious few spaces available for tenting, and the shelter itself was full of obnoxious weekenders and section hikers, all of whom were boasting of their awesome exertions hiking the five miles out from Waynesboro. And also how they were looking forward to going home in the morning to shower and have a nice cup of coffee. I would have murdered them all immediately, except Lil Dipper was there, and I feared she might have found the level of gore and carnage psychologically disturbing. 

I curled up in a corner and tried to get some sleep. Operative word being tried. Sleeping was nearly impossible due to the horrifically loud snoring, and then the waking up early, and then the banging of all the pots and pans together and shouting like it was [expletive deleted] Mardi Gras.

But that's another story, best saved for another day.

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