Walden 2.0

Remember Henry David Thoreau? Yeah, he was the guy who went to live in the woods for a couple of years and wrote the Transcendentalist masterpiece Walden, to the delight of literary critics and to the chagrin of English students just trying to stay awake, the poor sods. Yes, Walden was all about a man with a mission. It was a book about silence, about hard work and about being at peace with yourself and nature, without the bells and whistles of industry and the fervent need to accumulate more and more while riding on the tidal wave of western expansion. But what is Walden now but a terribly effective sleep medicine; a work so outdated and boring that even a rock gathering moss and covered in drying paint is a showstopper by comparison? We, the literary innovators at Better Than Sliced Bread, feel that it’s time to give Walden an update. How would the ideas of this 1854 published text transpose to this day and age? With our limited budget we managed to send one of our reporters to live in the woods for five days. There he kept a diary, which eventually proved that Thoreau had it easy. Witness the struggles of our heroic reporter here on BTSB.

Walden 2.0 by Simo Ahava

MONDAY No Facebook, no mobile phone, no Internet, no GPS, no booze, no fire, no dairy, no meat, no tap water, no insurance, no toothpaste, no NOTHING!

Stupid Thoreau and stupid BTSB.

I live in a small cabin that’s as old as my grandma and almost as shabby. I should build a fire, but I have nothing to kindle it with, nothing to fuel it with and nothing to light it with. I spend five hours trying to do it like they do in the movies, with two pieces of wood rubbed together, but to no avail. I guess freezing my ass off will be the main theme of this adventure.

I miss Facebook. I wonder how many Rock-Paper-Scissors challenges I’ve missed so far.

TUESDAY Since I’m all by myself, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna go crazy soon. To prevent that from happening, I cut myself and use my blood to draw a smiling face on the wall of the cabin to keep me company. Harry, as I christen my buddy, is going to be my best friend as I try to survive these remaining four days.

After noon I manage to build a fire! That’s right – in your face, Zippo! However, I soon pass out from the bloodloss, and when I wake up, I notice the fire has died. Ok, I really miss Facebook now.

I rekindle the fire and start thinking about getting some water boiled. I’m pretty hungry, but I’m sure I can find something edible from the undergrowth.

The shabby shack, which is my home, came equipped with a rusty pot. I fill the pot with water from a stream a couple of miles away. After returning to the cabin after four hours of searching, I find that the fire has died again. I hate you BTSB.

I get the fire going again at nightfall. By now I’m famished, faint from bloodloss and pretty much tired of all this shit. I cheer up a little, when I find some delicious looking mushrooms from the bushes nearby.

Boiling water isn’t as easy as I thought. Without Google’s consult, I have no idea how long to keep the water on the fire before putting the mushrooms in. The first batch evaporates before I take any decisive action, so I’m off to fetch some more water from the stream.

WEDNESDAY That’s right, it’s after midnight when I find my cabin again and start rekindling the fire, which managed to die AGAIN. Harry is laughing at me. I say some nasty stuff to him.

After two hours I have my mushrooms cooking in the boiling water, and I take a break to look at the clear, star-filled sky. Overrated.

Once the mushrooms are ready I start gobbling them up. They taste pretty good, even though I could’ve used some salt. After eating I’m so tired I fall down like a log.

I must say, I see some troubling dreams, and even when I wake up, I keep seeing weird things. Harry starts to sing opera, and when I tell him to shut up, he turns into my mother and says she’s ok with me being gay. After a mandatory “Huh?!?”-moment I figure it’s because of the mushrooms. I should stop eating them, but since they’re the only food around and since the delusions keep my mind off the reality of my overall situation, I keep on stuffing myself.

It’s day three and I’m ready to give up. Harry looks rejected, so I cut myself again and draw him a nice girly smiling face to keep him company. He thanks me cordially and I pass out.

I regain consciousness in three hours. I now decide that cutting myself is not a good idea and that I shouldn’t do it again.

At nightfall I hear some rustling from the trees just outside my field of vision. I hear a low, ominous growl and I see two yellow eyes in the distance. Oh man, if I only had Wikipedia here, I could easily define this nightly menace.

As the monster approaches my fire, it turns out to be a stray cat. I slowly pick up a stick I sharpened to keep Harry in order. Meat! Finally some real food! However, the cat realises what I’m about to do and turns into my mother, telling me how it’s ok if I want to wear a skirt. I realise I’m still hallucinating and decide to go and lie down. I can’t help but wonder what’s up with my mom and that crap she’s going on about.

THURSDAY This trip has been remarkable in no way. I’m sorry folks, but it looks like Walden was unique. Instead of becoming a verbal masterpiece of one man’s life in the woods, at peace with the world around him, this is becoming a macabre horror tale of survival, blood-spattered faces, nightmarish mothers and constipation (if I can’t flush it, I won’t crap in it).

Harry’s been really occupied with Jewel, his girlfriend. It looks like they’re really hitting it off. I pass out for three hours and when I wake up, I find out that Harry and Jewel have a child. I try to stop the bleeding from a new wound I cut in my arm, but it’s no easy chore since the blood is coming out by the cupfull. I drink it as fast as it comes out, so that I can keep the stuff in my body at least.

I can no longer tell apart what’s true and what’s not. My whole consciousness is as tattered as an old dishrag. Harry and his family are laughing at me while I try to explain to my mother that no, I’m not gay and no, I don’t want her old wedding dress to use when I marry that handsome pine tree that’s trying to make eye contact with me. I tell the tree to bugger off, but it doesn’t move.

The pine tree’s sexual innuendo is the last straw. I take a burning piece of wood from the fire I rekindled for the hundredth time this morning and set the tree in flames. I laugh like a maniac as I listen to the tree pleading for its life. I also set fire to the cabin and watch with glee as Harry and his family are engulfed in flames. I pass out again.

FRIDAY When I wake up, I’m in a helicopter, flying over a raging forest fire. I scribble these last notes in my diary before a doctor says that I must rest.

Before I slip into unconsciousness, I can’t help but feel a bit of pride for surviving the whole week.

The last thing I remember is my mother, sitting next to me, holding my hand and saying that I’m like the daughter she never had. [tags]thoreau, walden, transcendental, nature[/tags]

Auntie Nancy Fancy-Pants' Q&A

Horoscopes for October 29, 2007