Working on the Anti-American Ethic: More Is Not More
This is the rough draft of two paragraphs I’m working on in my new book for Perigee (Penguin), on taking young people into the outdoors:
“Kids need help unloading useless gear. I caught a high-school girl carrying a mini-cooler up to a snow shelter while winter camping one year. We were two-miles in before I saw her and the mini-cooler in her right hand. Inside that mini-cooler was a half-gallon of milk and a quart of yoghurt, both of which immediately froze into blocks and became inedible for the next three days. If I’d seen the mini-cooler at the car, I would’ve helped that girl out by disallowing mini-coolers on a snow trip. But I never considered the possibility of someone bringing a mini-cooler. And it was too late. She and her friend traded that awkward handful back and forth for the rest of our time out.
I’ve seen kids pack full-sized iron skillets, 18-packs of eggs that broke then froze, three pairs of shoes, eight-man tents to house two people, and enough clothes to last weeks. Kids don’t know better. They’ve been taught that more is always better and bigger is better and heavier is better because it’s sturdier which is better and thicker is more durable unless lighter and more expensive is better and then everything has to be lighter and more expensive and made of polycarbon fibers or gortex underlay or wicking micro-ceramics and everything sheds water perfectly because perfect is better and then the whole pack is filled with a lot a lot A LOT of expensive more everything which is obviously better than everyone else’s less expensive not so much of anything because everything is the greatest there is because everything is the most and the most is more than a lot and definitely more than some and more than not very much which is embarrassing really embarrassing to not have very much because we all deserve to have a lot of everything, right?”