Do You Ever Pretend You’ve Survived an Apocalypse?

adventure journal poll apocalypse

During the holidays, when I was reviewing AJ’s 2014 story mix, it struck me that the poll questions have gotten rather serious. Tackling big topics is all well and good, but not at the expense of exploring the absurd, the silly, and fanciful. The fun.

Hence this week’s question. Which, concerning the apocalypse, might not fall under the precise definition of “fun,” but is close enough. As a culture, we are fairly obsessed with disasters, plagues, apocali, and our response to them. There’s the whole zombie thing, of course, but despite its vast cultural reach it’s only one flavor of the post-devastation world view. Disease, vampires, and climate change all come into play. Consider Justin Cronin’s The Passage, or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or Fox’s new comedy, The Last Man on Earth (trailer below).

Or one of my personal favorites, Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, which prompted this poll. Heller’s protagonist, a man called Hig, has survived a pandemic and now lives at the base of Colorado’s Front Range in a fortified, abandoned airport with a weapons enthusiast named Bangley. Despite mortal danger from roving, desperate survivors, he and his dog venture high into the mountains, flying fishing, hunting, and taking in the solitude. It is a striking book, at once thoughtful and hopeful, and it also prompted me to do something I haven’t done since I was a kid – to imagine, when I was out hiking or camping, that I was the only person left on earth. What would it be like? How would I cope? Could I do it?

More tangibly, being out in the woods and imagining yourself 100 percent alone gives a crisp frisson of excitement to your surroundings. The trees, the mountains, they feel different, even if it’s only pretend.

Such thought experiments are apparently universal. Or are they? Am I the only freak one who thinks such things out in the backcountry? Or do you do, too?

[polldaddy poll=8577868]


products_2218_2689_218_enlargeThis week, one poll participant will receive a pair of Smith Optics Vice snow goggles, retailing at $140-$170. We’ll pick the winner via random number generator (and announce it here) – all you have to do to enter is vote and leave a comment so we have your email to contact you. Must have a U.S. or Canadian address. Contest ends Sunday, January 18, at midnight PST.

Congratulations to Neil Miner, who wins the Smiths this week!

Photo by Ray Bouknight

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