When the Civil War ended in defeat for the Confederacy in the American South many residents chose to leave the land then occupied by Northern forces, and they set off in search of new lands and homes where they could live freer lives once again, men unencumbered by intrusions of the greater State. Some men and women sought homes in South America, in British Guinea, for example, and others made their ways north and west into the mostly unsettled territories of Idaho, some far into the mountains isolated from even their closest neighbours, privacy and pursuit of independent individual living being paramount to the mind. For a hundred years and more such was the nature of most men from Idaho, tempered by a growing sense of nation as memories of the Civil War faded and as a love of our nation developed as we grew into a world power and paradigmatic land of the free for all to follow to peace and prosperity in the world, our homeland, even were men isolated in the mountains of Idaho, the centre of the universe of hope and decency for all. It meant, though, that men from Idaho were not world travelers, not adventurous, wandering men searching the world and the earth for more and better, not men driven by passionate if pointless curiousity to see beyond the next peak, forever moving onward just to see and just to know. In Idaho, men stayed in Idaho-- at home. To this day, after almost forty years of travel in the world, including America itself, I have not, till these most recent days in Iquitos, Peru, met men from Idaho traveling outside our home state. Yes, of course they do, but I have not met a one of them until my time in 2012 in Iquitos; and here first a small group of Seventh Day Adventist missionaries building and running a local orphanage and medical centre. Then a young man came to stay in the hostel I live at, a young man from the south of Idaho, as far from my home as is Peru in some sense, but from the same state nonetheless. I met another man from Idaho.
The lad I met from Idaho is the kind of lad I would want as a son, had I one, he being lean and handsome and tall, his manner and manners fresh and open and honest. He is, to put it in old guy terms, “clean cut.” I watched him for a few hours one morning before I spoke to him, as I sat sipping coffee at the communal dining table in the warm morning light flooding the courtyard, me pulling the knots out of my two foot long greyish pony tail, my plastic flip-flops dangling off my toes and my walking shorts in need of a quick wash. He looked like many other young men on the road, and I didn't say much to him till he mentioned he is from Idaho. I paused from scratching my sore spots spreading from the heat and inquired from which part of Idaho. He's from the opposite end of the state, so far from my home as to be almost an alien to me, but still a man from Idaho, a young man on the road, a traveler like myself. Suddenly he was for me one of my own, a man at last whom I could say is my American kin in ways unlike all other Americans. Idaho.
In meeting after a long lifetime on the road a man from Idaho I found myself in something of a state of rapture, and the first thing that came to mind in this euphoric state was what always comes to the mind of an old guy: to give advice. A young man who has made his way from a state in which few men travel away from home, a young man on his own and doing well at it, a man from Idaho, he was the perfect candidate to give advice to, and this in part because as an old guy I have the common degeneration of the brain that afflicts most old guys, i.e. the brain dissolves around the prudence and good manners part of the organ till there is no stopping a continuous dribble of advice leaking into the blurt section of the brain as surely as urine dribbles into ones shorts during the course of a long day. Giving advice is as biologically determined in an old guy as is being grumpy. It is the way of Nature, and nothing can be done for it by modern medicine to date. Old guys just have to give advice, uncontrollable, like when one laughs and finds oneself also farting. And too being a writer I must write. Thus, after talking with my young compatriot and giving him endless advice he politely asked my to put in all down on paper, as it were, to preserve it for the benefit of all other young men from Idaho, if not for all of eternity and the good of mankind. I do so here.
First bit of excellent advice:
Don't kill anybody unless they probably deserve it.
It's tempting to kill arseholes on sight, but then what do you do with the remains? I mean with the emotional remains of the guy you killed, he staying in your mind rotting there forever. If the guy stinks in real life, you don't want to carry him around in your mind for all of your life. And you can't undo it unless you have some rare talent that others will look at as a sign they should hang you up to dry for a few days till you too are dead. This is not to claim you should never kill arseholes. Sometimes it's the right thing to do and you cant help yourself, in which case don't worry about it. You can always come up with an excuse for yourself.
Second bit of advice every young Idaho guy should have:
Only screw really cute girls unless screwing an ugly girl is doing her a favour she will have to repay some time later in life when you need it. She might repay your favour by screwing you when you are old and ugly and the babes don't like you anymore and she's the only one who will look at you and you might find she's pretty OK after all but you didn't know it back then.
A bit of advice thirdly for Idaho young guys:
I generally hate poor people. What good are they? If I try to borrow ten bucks from poor people they always claim they don't have it. Borrowing: Don't borrow money from a guy you hate and then not pay him back just to piss him off. He's probably going to forget about the money he lent you, but you are going to know all your life that you're a thief and you're going to live your life in debt to a man you hate. On the other hand, it's good to lend a guy you hate some money because the odds are good you'll never see him again.
Guys from Idaho come from the only state in the Union (and I know this because I checked) that rhymes with “I dunno.” This is a good thing to keep in mind because smart guys, almost synonymous with Idaho guys, are smart enough to know that no one knows very much about almost everything. Your very own self, about whom you are likely the world's expert, is a subject you can't really claim to know all that well. You'll sometimes in your life find yourself saying, “What the hell did I do that for?” Or, “I can't believe I did that. I don't know why I did that. It's not like me to do that.” And so on. You won't have the first clue how you did such stupid things. So, say to yourself, “I dunno, I'm from Idaho.” You'll know more later and that will tell you there's a lot more to learn yet, which puts you far ahead of Californians, for example. 'Idaho' rhymes with 'I dunno' for reasons that are totally cosmic, like Socratic. That's one reason it's so good to be an Idaho guy. We're from Idaho, so we dunno.
Fifth but not last of ten bits of advice:
Don't give advice unless you are as old as I am and your brain is worn out from overuse or maybe underuse or whatever it is that happens to old guys that makes them incapable of not giving advice in the same way like when you get old and continuously piddle in your pants all day even after you use the toilet. Advice just comes out no matter what you do. So, since as an old guy you must give advice there are some ways of doing it well. The worst advice that you can give is excellent advice that could positively change someones' life. Most people will never take good advice, and they will hate you for telling them how they could have saved themselves from ruin if only they had paid attention to you. Worse is that they might take your advice, only to find they could have figured it out on their own and you cheated them out of the challenge.
Sixth adviceness from an old guy who cannot help himself:
Never in the course of an argument with your wife tell her that you should have turned queer and married the best man at your wedding instead of her. It will eventually get back to your best man and he will be pissed off that you are insinuating that he is a queer, which is a bad thing if he isn't. It's even worse if he is and you didn't notice all these years.
Have a lot of kids so that maybe one of them will grow up and some day forgive you for being the worst father in history. Most of your kids will probably grow up to be loathsome losers who hate you, so having lots of kids gives you a chance to actually like one of them.
Numero ocho adviso:
Unless you have at least one kid of your own do not ever ask your neighbours' babysitter how much she charges by the hour. Keep in mind that not everyone has your incredible sense of humor like when you are just kidding.
# nine advice bit for the Idaho Guy:
Of the thousands of stupid and obnoxious things you will do when you are married, do not do that one tiny thing that is the one thing that pisses off your best gal to the point she dumps you. You could easily find yourself wondering for years what it was that made her leave. You can run through so many small things that you did that you'll hardly sleep anymore. Better to bundle up all the small obnoxious things into a dozen huge things so you have a good chance of knowing which one was the real one that got to her. Then you won't have to wonder about it and you can sleep just fine, if all by yourself.
Finally, the last bit of advice for a young man from Idaho:
If you decide to ignore all the good advice you get from old guys all the time and you truly wreck your life, do it so seriously that you die young. This is particularly important because eventually your friends will get sick of you couch surfing and you will be a homeless bum. But if you die young some of them might recall you when you were sort of OK. Best of all you will have a permanent place to stay and you'll never have to worry anymore about paying the rent.
This ends for now my good advice to you, covering all things from birth to death and a lot of important stuff in between. I recall that Carl Leibniz, reputed to be the smartest man of his time in Germany, and an intellectual rival of Isaac Newton, went to a wedding where he was told it was customary to give the bride a gift. Leibniz thought for a moment and then gave her advice, something like this: "Now that you have managed to be married, do not stop bathing." I hope my advice to you, dear reader, is equally valuable and interesting. I'm not quite the philosopher Leibniz was so I have to believe of my own self that life is good. I believe that life has an ultimate purpose, something probably so grand that no man can grasp it. Why did so many men and women suffer so much to move to Idaho and to then build such a great state if not to produce us so we could in our time live to give advice? I think of this as part of God's great plan, though I don't claim to understand the details. We are from Idaho for a reason. We are blessed among men and nations. Live long, and in time you too will find yourself giving excellent advice. My best wishes for you, young friend, you man from Idaho.
A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
Occasional-Walker-D-W/dp/ 0987761501/ref=sr_1_1?s=books& ie=UTF8&qid=1331063095&sr=1-1
And here are some reviews and comments on said book: