A memoir about living in the wilderness, withstanding the elements, seeing no one, and doing almost nothing but running.
Swedish author Torgeby was always an indifferent student beset by anxiety and itching to get outside. “I don’t understand why I should be stuck inside doing something I don’t want to do,” he writes of that boyhood. “I don’t bother with my homework and always have the lowest marks in my class in every test. I just want to run.” His life got worse when his mother was diagnosed with a serious illness and he undertook her care. Though he had begun running competitively early on, he was always better in training than he was in a race, for reasons his coach said were all in his head. When he was 20, he left his home and family to live in the woods and run. Though he would interrupt this seclusion for a six-month training sojourn in Tanzania, he ended up spending four winters battling the elements, running daily, and taking odd jobs in the countryside when his money ran low. A journalist wrote some articles about him, but he wondered why people were interested. Some readers may be tempted to agree with him, as he doesn’t come across as particularly perceptive or reflective. Yet the articles sparked the attention of a documentary filmmaker, toward whom his subject was also ambivalent, not wanting the bother of attention but enjoying a bit of celebrity (the book was a bestseller in Sweden). Other runners found inspiration in his story, and he made his re-entry into civilization, with a wife, a family, and a message about how little you need to live life to the fullest. You don’t need expensive shoes or special socks or any consumer trappings. “You only need to put on your shoes and get going,” he writes. “Let the blood circulate. Then everything becomes much clearer.”
A slim, mildly inspirational book suggesting that you have to risk getting lost in order to find yourself.