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  • Matt Breton

A Way of Life


“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” ― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

I've been reading a bit of Edward Abbey. I read Desert Solitaire some years ago and enjoyed it, but I was probably to young and naive to really grasp its value. Ed called the desert southwest home, which is the polar opposite of the wet northeast, but many of the sentiments remain. His words stir me to action and anger, which is a nice balance against how I typically try to approach things, with a measured and thoughtful approach. Those of us who are rule followers can probably use a dose of Ed Abbey in our lives periodically.

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” ― Edward Abbey

I'm easily classified as a product of the system. Educated in a public school, checking the boxes of college, military and professional career...in health care, no less- an environment of systems, regulations, oversight. I pay my taxes, vote, pay my mortgage and have insurance- all nods to fitting in and being a productive member of society.

None of this is wrong. To exist in a modern society, there needs to be a certain amount of order. Heck, even a member of a nomadic tribe had to follow a few rules.

And yet, there is a side of me attracted to the anarchists and curmudgeons of the world.

“How to Overthrow the System: brew your own beer; kick in your Tee Vee; kill your own beef; build your own cabin and piss off the front porch whenever you bloody well feel like it.” ― Edward Abbey

I realize that, as much as I am a product of the system, there are parts of my life that run distinctly counter to what most Americans experience- those city dwellers who only see the woods and mountains through the windshield. Those people who don't know what it is like to live deeply connected to the earth- who've never grown a potato or spent the night in the woods.

“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” ― Edward Abbey

So when I feel like people, through the means of government, are trying to steer me away and shrink my way of life, I start to get a bit defensive. So I try to act, within the rules, as I can. Guns, hunting, pissing off my porch. I submit willingly to a few for the good of the world- like keeping trees planted near my lake.

“Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.” ― Edward Abbey

But at some points, enough is enough. Taxes, rules, systems- eventually the cage closes in so tight that a person has to break free. I'll keep fighting the good fight and play by the rules, as long as I can get into the woods and get a good mountain view.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” ― Edward Abbey


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