Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey

Sam Keith's book from the journals of Dick Proenneke (Pren-ne-kee) is one of the best books I have read. It is simply written in a parsimonious style that is still descriptive of the complexities of the man Proenneke is; and is descriptive of the complexities of a solitary, self-sufficient life in the Alaska wilderness. It is this simplicity of expression without loss of detail that makes Proenneke's journals so elegant.

Reading his journal motivates me to be productive and active but at the same time creates a sense of calm and peace . Proenneke is an extremely industrious man but who goes about his mission with calm purpose, a peaceful spirit, and with efficiency. He is creatively and mechanically intelligent to the highest degree, yet he finds his purpose in the simplest of pleasures of his surroundings: God painted views of lakes and mountains; flowing water; snow covered environs; and the daily lives and eccentricities of the Alaskan wildlife.

He revels in just being.

From his words, Proenneke is not a religious man, but he clearly demonstrates reverence in his love for life in the wild and the uncomplicated morality he lives out. This is succinctly stated in my favorite quote from the book.

Somehow I never seem to tire of just standing and looking down the lake or up at the mountains in the evening even if it is cold. If this is the way folks feel inside a church, I can understand why they go.

Man builds cathedrals that take lifetimes to complete to find a way to honor and worship God. Yet a simple man has captured the essence of true worship that a religious man should have.

This is such a great book for such an easy read. Efficient but grand just like Dick Proenneke.

1 comment:

JMG said...

The sights that God made are way better than our feeble attempts at putting together something beautiful.