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Well, that was a depressing read.
Knowing how the story ended, it was hard for me to imagine the middle parts would be uplifting.
I had actually read the first article several months ago, I wasn’t expecting his past to be that dark… maybe I’m just an optimist?
I’d read the original as well and anticipated bad things. But I know I’m just a pessimist, so I’m always happy to be wrong!
As someone who has dealt with depression many times, this story rings true on a few levels. Totally understand that urge to completely disappear to collect myself. Years ago, I used to go on long, solo jaunts in the woods, just to get back to nature and clear my mind, and not tell anybody that’s what I was doing. Friends and family eventually got used to it, like was explained in this article. Mostly Harmless took it a step further and disavowed his former self and left no real traces. He didn’t intend to come back. People who come back leave a trail or a few crumbs or some communication or an indication pointing the way. He deliberately did not, and so I just think he never intended to return.
It’s a sad story, for sure. I also see the value in what he was doing - he was coming to terms with himself. He was super intelligent, so he must have known he was cruel, probably not violent (“mostly” not) and wasn’t much for the normal everyday workings of the world. There was nothing truly tying him to life in his apartment in the city, even though he’d probably amassed a good savings. Money was irrelevant. Also, not sure to what degree, but he probably felt an intractable guilt about how he ruined his relationship and was so nasty and abusive to K. If it were tractable, he would not have just cut and run. I mean, that’s all conjecture: exactly what was the mixture of feelings rumbling around inside him? Who knows. But that urge to just get the F outta here and into nature is very familiar to me. I can totally relate.
In any event, I see a cautionary, useful tale, like Christopher McCandless. Maybe also shades of Aron Ralston. Lots of people need to make the “sojourn up the mountain.” Some people do it in the presence of others. A few just do it completely alone. And a few of those loners die as a final result. It’s not heroic. It’s personal. RIP, Mostly Harmless.
Unfortunately most drifters who make a point of never discussing their past or even disclosing their real names don’t have happy origin stories.