March 20, 2006

“The Last American Man”

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Book Description:
In this rousing examination of contemporary American male identity, acclaimed author and journalist Elizabeth Gilbert explores the fascinating true story of Eustace Conway. In 1977, at the age of seventeen, Conway left his family's comfortable suburban home to move to the Appalachian Mountains. For more than two decades he has lived there, making fire with sticks, wearing skins from animals he has trapped, and trying to convince Americans to give up their materialistic lifestyles and return with him back to nature. To Gilbert, Conway's mythical character challenges all our assumptions about what it is to be a modern man in America; he is a symbol of much we feel how our men should be, but rarely are.

Meaningful Quotes:
Live the way you've been taught to live! Then you won't have to come to church every Sunday and kneel and weep and repent. And you'll have a lot more time to spend in the forest, where, as Eustace believed, “There is only truth to be found – no lies, no shams, no illusions, no hypocrisy. Just a truthful place, where all beings are governed by a set of perfect laws that have never changed and never will.”

“There is no such thing as a 'bad' day in nature. You can't stand in judgment of nature like that because she always does what she needs to do.”

Reduce, reuse and recycle are good ideas, but those three concepts should only be the last resort. What you really need to focus on are... reconsider and refuse. Before you even acquire the disposable good, ask yourself why you need this consumer product. And then turn it down. Refuse it. You can.

...the old country adage about why god gave man two ears and one mouth: He could shut up and he could listen.

“More enduring than skyscrapers, bridges, cathedrals, and other material symbols of man's achievement are the invisible monuments of wisdom, inspiration, and example erected in the hearts of men. As you throw the weight of your influence on the side of good, the true and the beautiful, your life will achieve an endless splendor.

There is not way that you can have a decent life as a man if you aren't awake and aware every moment. Show up for your own life. Don't pass your days in a stupor, content to swallow whatever watery ideas modern society may bottle feed you through the media, satisfied to slumber through life in an instant gratification sugar coma. The most extraordinary gift you've been given is your own humanity, which is about consciousness. So honor that consciousness.