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The Wilderness Years

Essay By: Bill Rayburn

Escaping the jungle that eventually finds us all. It can be temporary, or infinite. (approx 280 words)

Submitted:Apr 3, 2012    Reads: 7    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

The Wilderness Years

Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, author and TV show host, opened a chapter called the Wilderness Years in his wonderful memoir, Kitchen Confidential, thusly:

"It is one of the central ironies of my career that as soon as I got off heroin, things started getting really bad. High on dope, I was at least a chef, well paid, much liked by crew and floor staff and owners alike. Stabilized on methadone, I became nearly unemployable by polite society: a shiftless, untrustworthy coke-sniffer, sneak thief and corner-cutting hack, toiling in obscurity in the culinary backwaters."

Well, I can promise you I'm all in for the rest of that chapter.

I find the concept of labeling a period of one's life "The Wilderness Years" intriguing. Haven't most of us gone through a stretch of time that could be labeled as such? Those years where you lost your way, drifted, couldn't commit to career or lover? Where you battled the almost overwhelming feeling of vulnerability even before you got out of bed? Where life is a chore, and you are baffled at the seemingly ghost-like exit of self confidence. The furtive glances over the shoulder, wondering who has you lined up in the cross hairs, who is adjusting the windage, where the slug will slam into your back? I'm not talking about paranoia. That's different. This is where life subtly grips your elbow and guides you into a world where clarity is absent, where you don't realize your current emotional landscape until it's too late. Until you are mired in it. No exit strategy presents itself.

I've extricated myself a few times from this scenario.

The Wilderness Years.



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