Release: A Wilderness Adventure of the Soul – Book Review

Release: A Wilderness Adventure of the Soul , 2008,  Deep Wild Communications, by Daren Wride

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I haven’t read a self-help, personal development book for many years. I think the last one I read all the way through was I’m OK, You’re OK, that early 1970s pop psychology look at the boxes we put ourselves in while communicating.

But the title of Daren Wride’s fictional account of an almost young man’s search for meaning in the wide outdoors does have three words I like: wilderness, adventure, and soul.

And since the author is a fellow British Columbian, when he asked me if I would like to review the book I agreed.

Mr. Wride on his website is seeking to position himself as a motivational speaker, and this book is in aid of that. And despite my prejudice against the sorts of exhortations that personal development and motivational speakers make, I found the book to be thought provoking and worthwhile, on the whole. But I have some critical notes too.

Let’s work from the outside in.

The book itself is a well-produced trade style paperback of 142 pages, with a typically beautiful BC scene of river and mountains on the cover. There are testimonials from two CEOs, a couple of other writers, and the saving grace, a comment from “an unbiased friend of the author”: “It reads like a hot knife through butter, as it cuts to the heart, spreads the emotions, sharpens the mind and releases the soul.” I enjoyed this enthusiastic show of support.release3c

Wilderness

The book is a fictionalized account of two weeks spent by the first-person narrator in a supervised wilderness program designed to challenge and stimulate. The program bears resemblance to Outward Bound perhaps, although the emphasis here is on a solo experience rather than teamwork.

The purpose of the program, its leader tells our hero, is to have its several participants, moderately successful but searching for something more, trek through the woods on their own and write a journal on topics such as Harness Your History, Focus Your Future, and Master Your Moment. I was pleased to see these slogans without any little trademark registered symbols after them.

This is a didactic story, intended to instruct, inviting the reader along as the lead character struggles with the progression implied in those mottoes. He examines his past and character while dealing with the mundane requirements of making camp and avoiding bears.

Harnessing

To give you the flavor, let me mention one exercise of several that set me thinking on my own life:

Harness Your History: Embrace Your Encouragement. List the things people have said or done throughout your life to encourage you.

The narrator considers his grandmother, his high-school basketball coach, his parents, and what they gave him. This is worthwhile to think about, the kind of thing that rewards recollection.

There’s Harness Your History: Process Your Pain and Harness Your History: Admit Your Ability! and in the context of cross-country wandering we are led to the beginning of Focus Your Future: Define Your Destination, all with their specific exercises, primarily reflection in a journal.

Towards the end of the journey we come to the third section, Master Your Moment with such topics as Form Strategic Habits in aid of one’s goals, making the point that the steady drip, drip of our actual activities does more to shape our lives than a lot of idealistic thought processes, say.

The writing is clear, usually graceful, and well observed about the wild world around the narrator and what he goes through emotionally.

The book, though, made me think of both Paul Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and the native American’s vision quest .

Pilgrims

I read The Pilgrim’s Progress many years ago. It too is a journey, but with its Slough of Despond, Valley of Humiliation and the Delectable Mountains takes in more depth and height. Perhaps I should note there is passing reference in this book too to prayer and a mention or two of God, but the author displays admirable restraint in promotion of his own beliefs. This is a secular tale, overall.

There is not much shared here with what we can know of the native American vision quest, other than a personal search for spirit and meaning in the wilderness… By that I mean there is nothing shamanistic here, no fasting, no sleep deprivation, no encounters with totemic figures.

In fact, this book’s questing is almost …suburban in nature. There’s a GPS gadget to find locations, a radio to check in nightly with, and idyllically located cabins. There is not much risk, nor danger to overcome.

I think of the pure intense involvement with the wilderness of the tragic young man movingly portrayed in Into The Wild. There is not that kind of pushing the boundaries here.

At the same time, I appreciate the focus the author asks of us: where do we think we’re going, where do we want to go, how do we get there… One detects a core of sincerity in the midst of the marketing tool. To raise the questions and to get the reader to think about them made the book worth reading for me.

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2 Comments on “Release: A Wilderness Adventure of the Soul – Book Review”

  1. qazse Says:

    As a young man I worked in one of the first community homes housing “pre-delinquent” teenage males. I took them backpacking several times. I found the process to be liberating for them. It was unlike any point of reference they had ever had. All they needed to survive in the wilderness was on their backs and between their ears. There were myriad lessons being learned simultaneously such as: fire building, berry gathering, food bag roping, orienteering, planing, first aid, confidence, endurance, and team work. It is hard to anticipate the full scope of positive results when we let life do its work.

  2. fencer Says:

    Hi qazse,

    I can see the positive influence there… the need for teamwork, no time for sulking or shirking, and the immediate rewards available… it’s got to be good for young people.

    Just being away from the glare and noise of the city and under the quiet stars could be transformative.

    Regards


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