Thursday, February 19, 2015

I Went to the Woods Because

            I READ THAT when I twelve years old my first year in the Boy Scouts.  I practiced Marine Knots and Morris Code and read Survival Manuals so that I could find my own Walden Pond and contemplate the secrets of the universe.   I threw my cell phone out one window and my watch out the other when I crossed the Montana State Line hitchhiking from down South, I was going to do it, after all, strip down to the bare essentials of life, live in the woods and just listen.  See what happens.  With no house payment, no car note or insurance, not even energy bills, phone and cable TV, I could live on my One hundred and twenty dollars every two weeks Workman's Compensation, sleep on the ground and study The Torah and then the Talmud.
           IN HINDSIGHT "Grizzly Gulch, Montana doesn't sound like a good place to get commune with Nature and live in peace and harmony.  I asked Ellen Baumler the historian at the Montana Historical Society in an email why it was named that, she said because it was full of Grizzly Bears but I never saw none.   I saw plenty running around in my mind the first month or so.  I was scared to death, didn't have a weapon unless you want to count my Leatherman and Family Size Dollar General Heavy Duty women's hairspray and a Bic Lighter, which is exactly what I planned to use.  I kept that sum bitch shook up and set on rock and roll right where my hand laid at night too.  I can't tell you how scared I was for at least the first six weeks when nothing happened.  In fact, the scariest thing happened, and it happened a lot, is, the silence was deafening and every once in a while you would hear a loud crack and something falling.  The lousy weather has tree's laying all crazy and end up somewhere where they can't be supported for long, and at some point just snaps, cracks and bang onto the ground.  After living out there a long time I realized that 99% of what you hear is just nature doing its thing, the scariest thing you are going encounter is your own fears....
               JUST LIKE THOREAU'S "On Walden Pond," 'cabin he lived in for two years, two months and two days, was not actually in the wilderness, Grizzly Gulch is just on the outside of the South side of Helena, Montana and begins the border of the Helena National Forrest.  I knew I had to stay near a major hospital in case I get injured.  I thought it would be a Rattlesnake bite because right by me were a bunch of rocks in an old limestone quarry was hundreds of snake.  From June to August you could throw a rock onto the pile of rocks, and you would hear dozens of them rattling.  The worst part about where I was the dozens of test holes in the ground.  Probably three feet across and deep enough you couldn't shovel no more.  There was so much Gold found in this part of Montana, it was virtually laying on the ground.   Locals still dig holes looking for it.  The most significant Gold find was discovered just a foot under water along a stream gleaming in the Sun by an Indian, in Gold Creek, Montana. 
             I SLEPT IN THE WOODS laying on the ground was a closeness to nature as I was going to get.  With my ear to the earth, I could hear anyone within fifty feet of me, even if they were trying to be quiet.  That's why I wasn't really afraid, anyone coming near me had to ford a landmine of holes in the ground just big enough you can walk into and break your neck in if you're not careful.  Even if you can't see at night to good you have to do what the animals do;  listen.  Walk a few feet and stop and listen.....

           I ATE AT a homeless shelter in town called, God's Love, Inc., they were in the business of caring for the least of us when they needed it most with, day-old bread, volunteers and people working off fines.   I knew if I didn't bring any food to my camp I'd have a better chance of not seeing any bears....
           I TRIED TO READ the Bible at least ten times and never got past chapter ten.  I later found out it tells two stories two different ways (Creation and Cain & Able); it's designed that way to weed out the wannabe scholars by simple confusion, that renders the reader wondering if the textural error was either everything  or nothing at all and should they continue.  I was determined to read it.  To me, if someone else has done it, I can probably do it too.   Just like when I studied law, I had too read each page four or five times and write it down and look up every word I didn't know, I can still do it.  It's just going to take me a little longer......but I will do it... and I did.
          AFTER I GOT set up in the woods,
Where I was just ten minutes down hill to God's Love, less than twenty minutes to a great hospital at St. Peter's in Helena, Montana, stripped down to the basic essentials of life, and not having to work, several hours of day studying The Torah, it was the end of April 2015.  After I got done with The Torah, the first five books of Moses and took six months, I knew I had a chance of reading all of it, and that I had to read The Torah again.  It's just too important to read just once, you're supposed to continue reading it every day, even if just a little bit...
           MY ONLY ENTERTAINMENT was an AM/FM CD player, and I listened to that thing twenty-four seven and had the local Montana Public Radio and the National Public Radio station schedule memorized.  Forced myself to listen to almost entirely Classical Music, #MORNINGCLASSICS which I still do to this day.  Two o'clock is #PERFORMANCETODAY,  usually recorded live symphonies' music.  Then began borrowing Audio Books on CD from the Lewis and Clark Public Library, and they have hundreds.    I was perfectly content to be honest with you, but I knew I couldn't spend a Montana winter in a plastic tent.  I actually did do it later,


YOUR WORST enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. #FREDRICHNIETZSCHE
         MONTANA UNIVERSITIES enrollment crisis could be eased by promoting Montana as a place to abandon digital technology an immerse in reading classic literature and minimal impact lifestyle.  Providing this academic setting advances Montana's image as a place to get away, refocus, and be left alone.... 
     WHEN I lived in the Grizzly Gulch Helena National Forrest just south of Helena, I was scared to death.  I had a feeling they didn't call this place "Grizzly Gulch," for nothing.  Anyway, after about six weeks of pure terror every night of the week and nothing happened, I quit being afraid and started sleeping like a baby and became a part of the woods, the most peculiar thing began to happen.  After sitting and just listening for long periods of time, I would spend considerable time getting ready to go by making sure nothing was left out, etc., and then take off for for who knows where.  
             WHEN I GOT tired I would sit down again and wait; just wait.  For what, you know not, but just learn to be still for long periods of time and just listen. After a while you get up without thinking about it, and just take off not knowing where your going, again!  It's like sleep walking but your awake.  Add that to sleeping under the Stars laying in a field of alfalfa in Montana you feel like your shining from the inside and only a few people can see it.  The most peculiar aspect of it though is where ever you go like this, i.e.,, no schedule, no job, no rent, free food and sleeping in the woods... people would blurt out, "I was just thinking about you!" Or "We was just talking about you!" Walk into a building just as someone walks out never touch a thing.  Everyone you meet bust out smiling at the sight of you...

Copyright 2014 by Mark Anthony Given
 All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746, Invoking 90 Stat. 2541 and
Article 2(4) of the Berne Convention for the Protection
of Literary and Artistic Works
7:27 PM 2/6/2015

To be continued.
Originally written for Montana Public radio's writing Contest that mentions "Montana Public Radio." 8:52 AM 2/23/2015

STEALING OSCAR took a shortcut to fame and fortune.  From 'story to movie to fame.  I GOT TIRED of waiting for my 15 minutes of fame, SO I STOLE IT!

See also:

Paradise Montana An Original Screenplay
A Screech and a Bang!




1617 Words
 COPYRIGHT 2017 by Mark Anthony Given
All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746  Public Law: Pub. L. 94-553 (Oct. 19, 1976)
U.S. Statutes at Large: 90 Stat. 2541
11:06 AM 1/28/2016