And from Everett’s own pen (pencil): “I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities….It is enough that I am surrounded with beauty….This had been a full, rich year. I have left no strange or delightful thing undone I wanted to do.”
“I’ll never stop wandering. And when the time comes to die, I’ll find the wildest, loneliest, most desolate spot there is.”
(quotes from “goodreads.com/author/quotes/445669.Everett_Ruess”)
“say that i starved, that i was lost and weary
that i was burned and blinded by the desert sun
footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases,
lonely and wet and cold, but that i kept my dream!”
“It is true that I miss intelligent companionship, but there are so few with whom I can share the things that mean so much to me that I have learned to contain myself. It is enough that I am surrounded with beauty….Even from your scant description, I know that I could not bear the routine and humdrum of the life that you are forced to lead. I don’t think I could even settle down. I have known too much of the depths of life already, and I would prefer anything to an anticlimax.”
“Bitter pain is in store for me, but I shall bear it. Beauty beyond all power to convey shall be mine….Death may await me….Not through cynicism and ennui will I be easy prey. And regardless if all that may befall, let me not be found to lack an understanding of the inscrutable humor of it all.”
As a 15 year old, Everett wrote his “Pledge To The Wind”: (http://www.angelfire.com/sk/syukhtuneverett.html)
“Onward from vast uncharted spaces, / Forward through timeless voids, / Into all of us surges and races / The measureless might of the wind….
In the steep silence of thin blue air / High on a lonely cliff-ledge, / Where the air has a clear, clean rarity, / I give to the wind…my pledge:
By the strength of my arm, by the sight of my eyes, / By the skill of my fingers, I swear, / As long as life dwells in me, never will I / Follow any way but the sweeping way of the wind.”
How can we do this “dance” between civilization and wilderness? Everett couldn’t do it.
And here we are in Bozeman, surrounded by wilderness, and after each day’s outing - return to live under roofs, cook in kitchens, buy food from glittering supermarkets, put on constantly cleaned clothes (well, for most people), and then go for our token “outing” again, to be reminded (ever so slightly) that there is an alternative, a wild place of beauty not touched by man. The sobering reminder of his “disappearance” and the inherent dangers of “going for broke” in the wilderness keeps us coming back I guess. The only alternative that comes to mind is to develop the ability get in the wilderness in our heads to temper the urges to flee. But it’s not the real thing, and Everett could settle for nothing less than the “real thing”. Again, here’s something to ponder while you’re out there on the trails (or in your heads on the roads): be wise while immersing yourself in the wilderness! I want to see you around town for a long time to come!
- David Summerfield