Now, nakedness is a delightful condition. And it keeps you very pleasantly cool - especially, I suppose, if you happen to be a man. But as I walked on eastward that afternoon through my private, segregated, Tonto world (exercising due care at first for previously protected sectors of my anatomy) I found I had gained more than coolness. I felt a quite unexpected freedom from restraint. And after a while I found that I had moved on to a new kind of simplicity. A simplicity that had a fitting, Adam-like, in-the-beginning earliness about it.
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It is always there, of course, when you come back from the green world. You have been living by sunrise and sunset, by wind and rain, surrounded by the ebb and flow of lives that respond only to such simple, rhythmic elements. But now the tone and tempo of the days switch. Instead of harmony, jangle.
Frankly, I fail to see how going for a six-month, thousand-mile walk through deserts and mountains can be judged less real than spending six months working eight hours a day, five days a week, in order to earn enough money to be able to come back to a comfortable home in the evening and sit in front of a TV screen and watch the two-dimensional image of some guy talking about a book he has written on a six-month, thousand-mile walk through deserts and mountains.
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Even in these mercifully emancipated decades, many people still seem quite seriously alarmed at the prospect of sleeping away from officially consecrated campsites, with no more equipment than they can carry on their backs. When pressed, they babble about snakes or bears or even, by God, bandits. But the real barrier, I'm sure, is the unknown.
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There there is nothing like a wilderness journey for rekindling the fires of life. Simplicity is part of it. Cutting the cackle. Transportation reduced to leg - or arm - power, eating irons to one spoon. Such simplicity, together with sweat and silence, amplify the rhythms of any long journey, especially through unknown, untattered territory. And in the end such a journey can restore an understanding of how insignificant you are -- and thereby set you free.
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By walking naked you gain far more than coolness. You feel an unexpected sense of freedom from restraint. An uplifting and almost delirious sense of simplicity. In this new simplicity you soon find that you have become, in a new and surer sense, and integral part of the simple, complex world you are walking through. And then you are really walking.
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