the-best-american-nonrequired-reading-2009

Here’s a secret: Everyone, if they live long enough, will lose their way at some point. You will lose your way, you will wake up one morning and find yourself lost. This is a hard, simple truth. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, consider yourself lucky. When it does, when one day you look around and nothing is recognizable, when you find yourself alone in a dark wood having lost the way, you may find it easier to blame it on someone else – an errant lover, a missing father, a bad childhood – or it may be easier to blame the map you were given – folded too many times, out-of-date, tiny print – but mostly, if you are honest, you will only be able to blame yourself.

One day I’ll tell my daughter a story about a dark time, the dark days before she was born, and how her coming was a ray of light. We got lost for a while, the story will begin, but then we found our way.

—  Nick Flynn, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009
I become useful, at last, to myself

The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble – to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consumer nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.

- Philip Connors, from The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009 (Published October 8th 2009 by Mariner Books)