Early on, Katz (Nolte) asks"Are you happy?" Bryson (Redford) says "What the hell kind of question is that?" He never answers that question, but eventually demonstrates the more important point: ultimate well-being requires some effort, some discomfort along the way, and some doubt. But if you don't quit, you can go home when you're ready.
So now I want to read the book again, of course. I'm a bit worried about that obnoxious and chatty know-it-all girl they ditched.
“I have long known that it is part of God's plan for me to spend a little time with each of the most stupid people on earth, and Mary Ellen was proof that even in the Appalachian woods I would not be spared. It became evident that she was a rarity.”I don't particularly want to walk the AT myself, except in bits and pieces, or imaginatively. But Bryson does reaffirm my commitment to ambulation in general.
“I know a man who drives 600 yards to work. I know a woman who gets in her car to go a quarter of a mile to a college gymnasium to walk on a treadmill, then complains passionately about the difficulty of finding a parking space. When I asked her once why she didn't walk to the gym and do five minutes less on the treadmill, she looked at me as if I were being willfully provocative. 'Because I have a program for the treadmill,' she explained. 'It records my distance and speed, and I can adjust it for degree of difficulty.' It hadn't occurred to me how thoughtlessly deficient nature is in this regard.”
Every twenty minutes on the Appalachian Trail, Katz and I walked farther than the average American walks in a week. For 93 percent of all trips outside the home, for whatever distance or whatever purpose, Americans now get in a car. On average, the total walking of an American these days - that's walking of all types: from car to office, from office to car, around the supermarket and shopping malls - adds up to 1.4 miles a week...That's ridiculous.”And what did the experience do for Bryson?
“I got a great deal else from the experience. I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for the wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn't know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home.”Loved this scene.
But I think you can be curious and Big Picture, both. And read books, "TV for smart people." And watch just a little TV.