If the inspirational Post-It-Note quotes on your cubicle have lost their stickiness. If your tent has held more dust in the basement than people in the woods. Or if you have gone on a great hike but can’t remember if it was last fall or, no, two falls ago –I have a bit of motivation for you.
This time it’s in book form: Rhythm of the Wild: A Life Inspired by Alaska’s Denali National Park, a new memoir from Alaska resident, naturalist and writer Kim Heacox.
In Rhythm of the Wild, Heacox takes the reader on a journey that spans decades (or eons, depending on how you look at it), through Denali National Park and beyond. It has the youthful thrill of mountainous bicycle rides, the thoughtfulness of nights spent alone in the backcountry, the playfulness of new adventures with loved ones and loads of one-of-a-kind characters. If you read or watched Into the Wild, about Chris McCandless’s journey and untimely death near Denali and wondered how it affected those who lived and worked in the area, you’ll find out. Ultimately, the story goes right to the heart of what it means to live a full life with nature as one’s core inspiration.
(Spoiler alert: It won’t hurt your enjoyment if you’re a Beatles fan too.)
Here’s the thing: I’ve traveled throughout southeast Alaska many times but I’ve never been to Denali. Still, I loved this book. It resonates with anyone who has ever been to Alaska or any of this planet’s wild places, only Heacox’s novelist’s and naturalist’s eye hones in on all that makes Denali one of a kind.
Like Heacox’s other memoir of life in Alaska, The Only Kayak, this book is full of inspirational gems.
“As I told my National Geographic high school students,” Heacox says…
Go. There’s a journey out there beyond what any of us know, daring and illuminating once taken, for once taken it takes you. Not so much down some path or road as from one chamber of the heart to another, one way of seeing to another, where the old definitions of ‘productive citizen’ and ‘progress’ mean nothing. Take off your shoes. Sing and dance for twenty minutes each day. Unless you’re really busy. Then sing and dance for an hour. Take a deep breath. Listen.
Where many would stop, Heacox takes the charge one step further, away from the hypothetical cuteness we so often read and shrug off as fantasy. He continues…
Whatever cookie-cutter life you had planned for yourself, forget it. Specialization is for insects. Industry is for machines. Yes, these are troubled times, and for some, hard times. But they’re not end times. Many great problems and challenges lie ahead. It’s not your job to solve them all, but it is your responsibility to be aware, to come together and tackle problems as best you can, and at the same time enjoy the beauty of this world, celebrate it, restore it, share it, and make it better one day at a time. You don’t have to be anything you’re not; instead, be everything you are. If your future isn’t on a career questionnaire, don’t worry. Improvise, experiment, explore, create, love, forgive, and give. It will keep you young. And wild.
Tack up that inspirational quote once more. In fact, rewrite it larger. Dust off that tent. Hike that mountain. Denali, maybe? Before you do that though, I recommend reading this book.
You can pick up Rhythm of the Wild online or at your local bookstore. Flights to Alaska are available through a few major carriers.